Rhode Island Makes Play for Banning Smoking in Casinos

Smoking is a divisive topic in Rhode Island casinos and now Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi wants to see it abolished. She is joined by a trade union that wants to make sure that the states stop exempting casino floors as an area where indoor smoking may still persist, and cites a state ban on smoking in public workplaces. Commenting on the need to suspend smoking in casinos, Tanzi said:

“Casino workers are Rhode Islanders, parents, caregivers, taxpayers and human beings, and they deserve the same protections as everyone else in our state.”

Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi

She acknowledged that completely suspending second-hand smoking in the workplace would not be entirely possible, but the case of casino workers was not quite the same. She argued that casino workers were in fact disproportionately unprotected from the damage of secondhand smoking and that there was no excuse to continue endangering their health.

That is why the state needs to acc and pass the newly-proposed 2022-H 7855 bill which will aim to end this loophole. Tanzi is sponsoring the bill and is hoping that the exemption for casinos will finally be removed from the Public Health and Workplace Safety Act. Prohibiting smoking has been a hot-button topic in many jurisdictions out there.

Atlantic City is having a fierce debate about whether snuffing out cigarettes would lead to another economic downturn. Casino stakeholders fear that this would be the case, citing Pennsylvania as a state that keeps its smoking. Only this is not true, and the Keystone State has also recently decided to divorce the exemption that permitted smoking on casino floors.

With arguments in favor running short and thin, Rhode Island’s push to rid itself of casino smoking is another argument for why this is a good idea. Most states already prohibit indoor smoking, citing scientific evidence about the harm it does. The arguments against casino smoking in Rhode Island were backed by dealers and casino employees.

One Lynn Dupre who worked for eight years at the Bally’s Tiverton and Bally’s Twin River said that she had to transfer between properties, hoping that the new ventilation system would improve her health.

Casino Workers in Rhode Island Rally against Smoking

This came at the expense of a pay cut and a longer commute. While the effects were evident at first, Dupre said that six months later she was back to the same issues with her breathing. She explained:

“About six months later, after working 40 hours every week with people blowing smoke into my face, the smoke started taking its toll again, even with better ventilation. Simply put, there is absolutely no way to have a smoking casino which is not harmful to its employees’ health.”

Bally’s casino worker Lynn Dupre

The argument against smoking on casino floors runs that gambling facilities are already successful enough. Besides, they do not want to completely prohibit smoking – outdoor patios and verandas or even special rooms may still be used to just go and bunk off for a  smoke. However, casino workers, who are in huge demand and short supply, are becoming increasingly unhappy with people blowing smoke in their faces.

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