Should casinos be a smoke-free workplace? The UAW thinks so.

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Atlantic City casino workers suing authorities to overturn smoking prohibition exemption

Atlantic City casino workers suing authorities to overturn smoking prohibition exemption 00:27

Breathing second-hand fume is inactive portion of the occupation for galore U.S. workers, particularly those employed astatine casinos.

After unsuccessfully agitating for much than 3 years to get lawmakers to prohibition smoking successful Atlantic City casinos, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, oregon CEASE, and the United Auto Workers filed a suit on Friday in authorities Superior Court challenging a spread successful New Jersey's indoor cleanable aerial law. New Jersey successful 2006 passed authorities banning smoking successful enclosed indoor spaces and workplaces, but exempted casino workers from its protections, with smoking allowed connected 25% of the casino floor. 

"This authorities was expected to support everyone from the dangers of secondhand smoke. But somehow, our casino workers person been asked to rotation the dice, each successful the sanction of firm greed," UAW President Shawn Fain said. "Every idiosyncratic deserves information connected the job, and each idiosyncratic deserves adjacent extortion nether the law. By leaving retired casino workers, the authorities of New Jersey isn't holding up its extremity of the bargain." 

UAW's portion 9 represents workers successful New Jersey, including much than 3,000 successful the Bally's, Caesars and Tropicana casinos successful Atlantic City, "many of whom person suffered, and proceed to endure terrible wellness problems arsenic a effect of having to enactment successful secondhand smoke," according to the complaint. Casino workers "have crab and different diseases related to smoking, though they don't smoke," the papers stated. 

"You cognize you're successful a spot dissimilar immoderate different spot successful 2024, immediately. Nobody has to beryllium smoking adjacent you, you get the effect arsenic soon arsenic you locomotion into the casino," Lamont White, 61, a trader successful Atlantic City for astir 39 years, told CBS MoneyWatch. "My eyes are ever red, I person precocious respiratory infections each the clip — thing superior yet, but we ne'er know," said White, who works astatine the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, 1 of 9 casinos successful Atlantic City. All let smoking.

"We basal astatine the tables wherever they tin fume straight successful our faces," relayed Nicole Vitola, 49, besides a trader astatine the Borgata, and, similar White, a co-founder of CEASE, a grassroots radical formed successful 2021 successful New Jersey. 

A trader successful Atlantic City for 27 years, Vitola worked successful the smoked-filled casino rooms done 2 pregnancies. "At nary clip bash they amusement courtesy for the large dealers," she said. 

The suit names Gov. Phil Murphy and the state's acting wellness commissioner. Murphy, a Democrat, has signaled that helium would motion a smoking prohibition into instrumentality if authorities lawmakers walk one. His bureau did not respond to a petition for comment.

The Casino Association of New Jersey, a commercialized radical that represents each 9 Atlantic City casinos, declined to remark connected the lawsuit. But the radical has opposed a smoking ban, arguing specified a prohibition would spot the city's casinos astatine a disadvantage successful competing with establishments successful neighboring states that let smoking.

"The authorities of New Jersey has failed casino workers successful Atlantic City for 18 years. We fto a mendacious statement astir economics subjugate our work to support the radical we service and successful doing so, we allowed corporations to poison their employees for astir 2 decades," Joseph Vitale, a New Jersey authorities senator, said successful a statement supporting the lawsuit. 

By 2022, 26 states had commercialized casinos employing much than 745,000 people, 22,796 of them successful New Jersey, according to the latest annual report from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. 

Casino workers are besides starring campaigns to adjacent smoking loopholes successful different states, including Kansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.

Dealers, bartenders and technicians who work the slot machines astatine U.S. casinos are subjected to on-the-job fumes from the cigarettes of customers inactive legally allowed to airy up wrong gambling establishments successful 20 states, according to CEASE.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, determination is nary harmless level of secondhand smoke. Further, allowing smoking successful casinos puts 96,000 casino workers successful Las Vegas astatine risk, the bureau recovered successful a report issued successful past year.

Separate data published successful June 2022 by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming recovered casinos without indoor smoking outperforming their smoking counterparts.

"While astir ever concern successful Nevada protects workers and guests from the known dangers of secondhand fume indoors, casinos are the exception," Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) said in calling for an extremity to indoor smoking successful the state.

MGM successful 2020 announced that Park MGM, which includes NoMad Las Vegas, would go the archetypal afloat smoke-free casino edifice connected the Las Vegas Strip. Other casinos person non-smoking sections. 

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is simply a newsman for CBS MoneyWatch successful New York.

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