The Star Entertainment Group has announced its properties in Queensland and NSW will be smoke-free indoor environments by the end of 2022.
The opening of Australia’s newest integrated resort – the $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf project in Brisbane – will complete a Board-endorsed group-wide move to no smoking indoors.
The Star Sydney and The Star Gold Coast will transition to the same position over the next two years as appropriate outdoor smoking solutions are installed.
State Government exemptions in NSW and Queensland currently allow guests to smoke indoors in restricted premium gaming areas and areas designed for international guests, where The Star has installed air filtration technology.
Exemptions were designed to ensure casinos were not at a competitive disadvantage against domestic and international rivals in the battle for tourism market share.
The Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development – showcasing four luxury hotels, more than 50 restaurants, cafes and bars, retail outlets, 12 football fields of public space and a new world-class gaming facility – is planned to commence operations in late 2022. But the plans for the transformational project do not include indoor smoking.
The Star Entertainment Group Managing Director and CEO Matt Bekier said the time was right for change, with smoking rates declining across all age groups and jurisdictions, and international gaming customers becoming more accepting of outdoor smoking solutions. “We are seeing fewer and fewer customers wanting to smoke indoors,” he said. “More and more of our guests are demanding an entirely smoke-free indoor environment and over several years we have been gradually reducing the smoking options in our premium gaming areas.
“This move to go completely smoke-free indoors brings us into alignment with most of the hospitality industry and creates a better working environment for our staff.” According to the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 11% of Australians aged 14 years and over were daily smokers. This compared to 19% in 2001 and 24% in 1991. 39% of existing smokers had cut back on their tobacco consumption in the previous 12 months, and Australians who had never taken up smoking climbed to 63% from 49% in 1991. Children exposed to daily smoking in the home fell from 20% in 2001 to 2% in 2019. Over the past 25 years, there have been mandatory moves to smoke-free indoor environments for offices, international flights, entertainment venues, restaurants, bars and cafes.
“Community expectations are also considerably different to what they once were,” Mr Bekier said.“We’ve listened and we’re looking forward. The best interests of our guests and staff have driven this decision.
“We will cease to operate premium gaming rooms with smoking facilities after a transition period to redesign our existing properties, but no later than the end of 2022.”