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Silvia Pavlof February 6, 2024 3 min read
Atlantic City Casino Workers Rally for Smoke-Free Environment
Despite the hazards linked to extended exposure to smoke, the existing regulations allow smoking in 25% of the gaming floor
Atlantic City, known for its vibrant casinos and bustling nightlife, has long been a hub for those seeking their luck at the card tables or slot machines. However, behind the glitz and glamour lies a persistent issue that has been plaguing the city’s workforce for years: secondhand smoke.
Advocates Emphasize Worker Well-being Over Financial Concerns
A group of casino dealers, led by individuals like Pete Naccarelli, Nicole Vitola, and Lamont White, have spearheaded a movement called Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) aiming to outlaw smoking within the confines of the city’s gambling establishments. Their efforts have gained momentum, with workers coming together to demand a healthier work environment.
For Naccarelli, who has spent 27 years in the casino industry, dealing with the constant presence of secondhand smoke has taken its toll. He describes dealing with a table full of smokers as “torture,” highlighting the physical and mental strain it inflicts on him and his colleagues, as reported by the HuffPost.
Despite the risks associated with prolonged exposure to smoke, the current regulations permit smoking on 25% of the gaming floor, leaving many workers feeling helpless and unprotected.
The push for a smoking ban in Atlantic City’s casinos is not a new endeavor. Similar initiatives have been met with resistance from casino operators, citing potential revenue losses and job cuts.
However, advocates argue that the well-being of workers should take precedence over financial considerations. They stress the need for a comprehensive ban to ensure a smoke-free environment for all employees.
Labor Union Rifts Emerge Amid Atlantic City Smoking Ban Debate
The debate surrounding the smoking issue has also revealed rifts within the city’s labor unions. While some unions, like the United Auto Workers, have thrown their support behind the ban, others, such as Local 54, have expressed concerns about the economic implications. Despite differing opinions, workers remain united in their pursuit of a healthier workplace.
Legislators in Trenton have taken notice of the workers’ demands, with a bill to ban smoking in casinos making progress in the state Senate.
However, challenges remain as lobbying efforts intensify, reflecting the complex interplay between public health, economic interests, and political dynamics.
As the debate continues, casino workers like Naccarelli, Vitola, and White remain steadfast in their resolve to enact change. For them, it is not just about fighting for a smoke-free environment. It is about fighting for their lives. And as they rally for their cause, they hope that Atlantic City will soon become a beacon of progress in the ongoing battle against secondhand smoke.