Atlantic City, NJ casino workers continue push for permanent smoking ban
ATLANTIC CITY — At any time while on the job, Pete Naccarelli could be just a couple feet away from six people actively smoking.
And he has no choice but to stay right where he is, until he's moved to his next table.
"It's the most unhealthy thing you can think of," Naccarelli told New Jersey 101.5.
Naccarelli, a dealer at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, had the opportunity to work in a smoke-free environment for several months due to a temporary ban put in place because of the pandemic, but since July 4 casinos have been able to permit smoking again indoors.
"Every day we see more and more smoke and smokers, people being more comfortable blowing the poison in the air," said Naccarelli, who's worked in the business for 25 years.
Naccarelli is one of many members of the group Casino Employees Against Smoking's Effects, or C.E.A.S.E, which is pushing state officials to put an end to smoking in the nine gaming halls.
With Gov. Phil Murphy scheduled to deliver a keynote address Tuesday at noon for the East Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah's, C.E.A.S.E has a rally planned for 11 a.m. outside the same casino, rain or shine.
The event will call on Murphy to demand action from the New Jersey Legislature on legislation that would close a loophole for casinos in New Jersey's Smoke-Free Air Act. Murphy has said that he'd look favorably on such a measure.
Legislation does exist, but it hasn't seen any action. The measure states:
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that casino workers are at greater risk for lung and heart disease because of secondhand smoke, and a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that the air in casinos can have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles than the air on rush-hour highways.
The Casino Association of New Jersey believes that a smoking ban would have an adverse effect on Atlantic City casinos, including a decline in the number of customers. The association noted that casinos' air filtration systems were reviewed because of the pandemic, and they were found to be effective in keeping the air quality fresh and clean.
Atlantic City law limits smoking to no more than 25% of the casino floor.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.