Casino Workers in Atlantic City Advocate for Smoke-Free Environment

Atlantic City, a city known for its vibrant casinos and bustling nightlife, is facing a persistent issue that has been affecting the city’s workforce for years: secondhand smoke.

Casino dealers, including Pete Naccarelli, Nicole Vitola, and Lamont White, have formed a group called Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) to push for a ban on smoking within the city’s gambling establishments. Their efforts have gained momentum, with workers coming together to demand a healthier work environment.

Naccarelli, who has spent 27 years in the casino industry, has been vocal about the toll that dealing with secondhand smoke has taken on him. He describes it as “torture,” highlighting the physical and mental strain it inflicts on him and his colleagues.

Currently, 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 and has 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.

The debate has also revealed rifts within the city’s labor unions. While some unions, like the United Auto Workers, have supported the ban, others, such as Local 54, have expressed concerns about the economic implications.

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.

Casino workers like Naccarelli, Vitola, and White remain steadfast in their resolve to enact change. They hope that Atlantic City will soon become a beacon of progress in the ongoing battle against secondhand smoke.