Atlantic City, a destination known for its lively casinos and bustling nightlife, has a hidden issue that has been affecting its workforce for years: secondhand smoke.
A group of casino dealers, led by individuals like Pete Naccarelli, Nicole Vitola, and Lamont White, have formed the movement called Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE), with the goal of banning 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 personally affected by the constant presence of secondhand smoke. He describes dealing with a table full of smokers as “torture,” highlighting the physical and mental strain it inflicts on him and his colleagues.
However, the current regulations permit smoking on 25% of the gaming floor, leaving many workers feeling helpless and unprotected.
While advocates argue that the well-being of workers should take precedence over financial considerations, the push for a smoking ban in Atlantic City’s casinos has faced resistance from casino operators, who cite potential revenue losses and job cuts.
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. 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.