Casino Workers Launch CEASE Kansas, Join Peers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island Fighting to Protect Their Health
May 12, 2023 | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Topeka, KS– Kansas casino workers today announced that they are banding together to fight for their health by advocating to close the casino smoking loophole in state law. Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) Kansas is the latest chapter of workers who are organizing and calling on their employers and legislators to end outdated and dangerous indoor smoking policies. There are now four CEASE chapters nationwide representing workers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Kansas.
“We are joining our peers from across the country and launching CEASE Kansas to demand a clean and safe working environment for the thousands of workers who are the backbone of the gaming industry,” said Joe Hafley, founder of CEASE Kansas. “As a security officer, I have to deal with all areas of the casino, including the smoking section that covers most of the gaming floor. Even if I’m not stuck on a gaming table like some of my coworkers, I’m still forced to breathe secondhand smoke throughout my shift and go home smelling like cigarettes. For far too long, casino workers have been the only community of people who lack protections from the dangers of secondhand smoke in our workplace. We have already been successful in getting several lawmakers to cosponsor legislation to close the casino smoking loophole in Kansas and I know that our new CEASE chapter will help get this across the finish line.”
Kansas took an important step toward protecting casino workers when, in April, the Senate voted to close the casino smoking loophole. Hafley played an important role in these efforts, single-handedly recruiting dozens of cosponsors for legislation that would get rid of smoking inside casinos.
“We’re thrilled to welcome casino workers in Kansas to our worker-led fight for a smokefree workplace,” said Pete Naccarelli, a co-founder of CEASE. “Casino workers all over the country are sick and tired of risking our health over the false perception that casinos will make more money by allowing the outdated practice of indoor smoking. We shouldn’t have to endure dangerous secondhand smoke, putting our lives on the line every day simply to make a paycheck and support our families. No casino in America should have indoor smoking, period.”
Naccarelli, Nicole Vitola and Lamont White – all of whom are longtime table games dealers at Borgata Atlantic City– formed CEASE in July 2021. The effort began after Atlantic City casinos brought back indoor smoking, despite experiencing financial success while operating smokefree for nearly a year, from mid-2020 through July 4, 2021. Last year at the casino industry’s largest annual industry gathering, Global Gaming Expo (G2E), CEASE rolled out their first affiliates outside of New Jersey with the creation of CEASE Rhode Island and CEASE Pennsylvania.
While nearly half of all states do not permit indoor smoking at casinos, too many states with large gaming workforces still lack a statewide law prohibiting this outdated business practice. These states include: Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Michigan; Mississippi; Missouri; Nevada; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; West Virginia.
The CDC Office on Smoking and Health recently released a report on secondhand smoke, which examined air quality in Las Vegas casinos. The report, entitled “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs” evaluated particulate matter – an indicator for secondhand smoke – in casinos that are smokefree indoors, and compared the results to casinos that allow smoking. They concluded that prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke.
A report by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that casinos without indoor smoking outperform their smoking counterparts. “Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly indicates that banning smoking no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue. In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.”
Ventilation systems are not the answer, according to the engineers who design such systems and collectively make up the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). “[Ventilation systems] are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort, but cannot eliminate exposure,” they write. “There is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air-cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of [environmental tobacco smoke] to an acceptable level.”
Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 47 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and has successfully protected 66.8% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels.