CEASE to Dr. Biden: “We Invite You to Take a Walk on the Casino Floor to See What We Experience on the Job Every Day”
July 5, 2023 | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlantic City, NJ—Ahead of Dr. Jill Biden’s visit to Atlantic City on Thursday, a grassroots group of casino workers is calling her attention to their dangerous, smoke-filled working conditions as the casino smoking loophole persists.
Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE), a multi-state coalition of frontline casino workers, sent a letter to Dr. Biden before she speaks at the National Governors Association meeting on Thursday afternoon at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
“We want you to know the conditions we must work in every day,” wrote CEASE co-leaders Pete Nacarelli, Lamont White, and Nicole Vitola in the letter. “We’re sure you’ll notice the dangerous odor of cigarette smoke when you walk inside the casino. While this is a temporary experience for you and many of the attendees at the National Governors Association meeting for a few days this week, it’s the reality that we face every day when we go to work.
“We spend eight hours several days a week stuck breathing these carcinogens, and we’re tired of the diagnoses of cancer, heart disease, emphysema and more that result from this. Some of us have even had to deal with the smoke at work while pregnant, left to wonder what hand was being dealt to our unborn children. While the smoking in the casino affects every part of the building and will reach the convention space, we invite you to take a walk on the casino floor to see what we experience on the job every day.”
CEASE noted that it’s been more than 17 years since the State of New Jersey first created the casino smoking loophole.
“Seventeen years ago, New Jersey passed the New Jersey Smoke-free Air Act. In doing so, the state declared that tobacco smoke is a substantial health hazard to the non-smoking majority of residents. After all, second-hand smoke kills an estimated 41,000 Americans annually,” wrote CEASE. “They decided that it was clearly in the public interest to prohibit smoking in all enclosed indoor public areas and workplaces. Unfortunately for us, the backbone of Atlantic City’s gaming industry, this law excluded the casino floor. Restaurant guests must smoke outside, but gamblers are still allowed to sit down and smoke at the tables, where we can’t walk away, turn around or even wave the smoke away without facing disciplinary action from management.”
While action appears likely in the lame-duck session later this year, casino workers must still go to work in these conditions.
‘While we’re glad that Gov. Phil Murphy has said he’ll sign legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole, and that nearly 75% of all state legislators from across the political spectrum have co-sponsored these bills, we are still waiting,” wrote CEASE. “Legislative action is urgent, but the casinos themselves are not off the hook. They have the power to end smoking today if they really care about us. Casino executives sit in their offices, free of smoke, and turn their heads while we — the frontline casino floor workers who are overwhelmingly people of color and female — breathe second-hand smoke. They would be horrified if someone lit up a cigarette in their workplace — so why is it O.K. for us?”
CEASE also invoked the late Delaware governor, Ruth Ann Minner, who led the charge in 2002 to end indoor smoking in that state.
“We are literally sick and tired of being forced to choose between our health and a paycheck — and we will not stop fighting to eliminate the casino smoking loophole until it becomes a reality. It’s time for New Jersey and the casinos to prioritize our health,” wrote CEASE. “We refuse to be left behind in the smoke and hope leaders in our state will learn the lesson of the late Delaware governor, Ruth Ann Minner, whose commitment and leadership to end indoor smoking at the First State’s casinos two decades ago saved countless lives. Now we need to save lives in New Jersey.”
Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) is a group of thousands of casino dealers and other frontline gaming workers that is fighting to permanently remove smoking from our workplaces. CEASE has chapters working to close the casino smoking loophole in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Kansas and Virginia.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
Sister organization to the ANR Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for over 45 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 successfully protected 61% 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. For more information, please visit https://nonsmokersrights.org and https://smokefreecasinos.org.