Non-Smoking Campaign Moves from Atlantic City to Vegas

The employee-based group that began protesting resumption of smoking in Atlantic City turned up at G2E in Las Vegas, pictured here with GGB Publisher Roger Gros, a former dealer who supports their efforts. Their message was the same: ban smoking from casino floors, but all over, not just in AC.

Non-Smoking Campaign Moves from Atlantic City to Vegas

The Atlantic City employee-led organization spearheading efforts to close down the smoking sections has expanded its efforts beyond New Jersey, and what better way to foment support than at G2E, the largest convention of its kind in Nevada.

They have an affiliate in Rhode Island and hope to do the same in Nevada and Pennsylvania, two of the largest markets, according to CDC Gaming Reports.

“This is not just a moment. This is a movement,” said Pete Naccarelli, co-founder of the year-old Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE). “We want casino workers in any city or state to band together, get organized, and fight to protect their health by finally ending dangerous indoor smoking. We’re making it easy for workers who may be nervous about speaking up to finally take that first step to stop choosing between their health and a paycheck. We are sick and tired of risking our health over the false perception that casinos will make more money by brushing aside our legitimate concerns. No casino in America should have indoor smoking, period.”

“We are here to tell the casino employees of Las Vegas and everywhere around the country to contact CEASE and let’s work together to get rid of smoking in casinos,” Naccarelli said October 11 at a news conference at a Palazzo Hotel suite in Las Vegas, in the same complex where the annual Global Gaming Expo takes place.

Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said that G2E has three days of panel discussions on top issues for the gaming industry, but not a smoking ban.

“It feels that G2E is ignoring the topic” she said, despite many casinos across the country voluntarily going smokefree after the Covid pandemic and new studies indicating the decision doesn’t harm casino revenue. “People don’t want to talk publicly about the things they can’t defend.”

Asked for comment, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released this statement: “Each year, G2E includes a carefully calibrated education program that evolves with the industry. G2E 2022 will focus on macroeconomic headwinds, the evolution of responsible gaming, technology disruptors, the relationship between retail and online gaming, and more. We’re thrilled to be in-person for the industry’s premier global event and to be highlighting the gaming technologies and solutions that will define the future.”

In the past, AGA called smoking an issue for states, municipalities and casinos.

CEASE New Jersey member Lamont White, who has been a dealer for more than 37 years, said the New Jersey clean-indoor-air law, passed 16 years ago, protects virtually all workers except those on the casino floor.

“We’re here in Vegas to carry the message that a smoking ban is possible,” he said. “Casino workers from other areas in the country are becoming interested in our progress and ready to join the fight.” He said the group visited four Las Vegas-area casinos Monday to spread their message and found seven or eight employees receptive to their message.

“While we’ve gotten 90 yards down the field with New Jersey legislators and still have more work to do to get our bills across the goal line, we have learned a lot over the last 16 months that we want to share with our peers across the country,” said White. “We’ll do anything we can to ensure that no casino worker has to breathe secondhand smoke at their job ever again. Those days will soon be over.”

CEASE Rhode Island leader Vanessa Baker, who has worked in New England casinos for 27 years, said her workplace was smoke-free for about 20 months because of Covid restrictions. Since smoking resumed this spring, she has become an active asthmatic and has had to resume respiratory medication for issues “clearly caused” by secondhand smoke. If not for seeing that her lungs could heal during the smokefree period, she would not have become involved with CEASE, she said. “I can no longer be the canary in the coal mine.”