Workers demand smoking ban in Rhode Island casinos
June 9, 2022
Rhode Island workers are demanding for the ban on smoking in two casinos to be permanent. The ban started and was implemented in response to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the workers want it to be permanent and lawmakers might support the cause.
Smoking is currently prohibited in public places except for casinos. But a bill is currently pending in the Legislature to revoke that exception. The bill is held up since it needs further study before the decision is made. Smoking in casinos will be prohibited if the bill is passed.
The two casinos with the smoking ban are Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino and Bally’s Tiverton Casino and Hotel. The casinos’ workers are going to the State House on Wednesday to push lawmakers to pass the bill for the smoking ban in casinos.
Spokesperson of both casinos Patti Doyle on Wednesday said Bally’s is open to discussing employees’ concerns at a negotiation table. The companies admit to noticing concerns about the legislative proposal and they already created arrangements for nonsmokers.
A worker at Tiverton Casino Vanessa Baker said her health improve as smoking was prohibited in the casino. But her health began to decline as the mandate was lifted in March and guests began smoking again. She noticed having a cough, headaches, and less energy she thought to be from the secondhand smoke.
“In one week I saw my life deteriorate,” Baker said.
In April, the American Cancer Society Action Network, as well as casino dealers and union representatives are all supporting the bill for a hearing. Democratic Representative Teresa Tanzi, the sponsor of the bill, said continuing smoking in casinos betrays the amount of information currently present on secondhand smoking.
“I honestly believe it’s cruel,” she said.
“They had two years of a smoke-free workplace. And just to be thrown back into a smoking environment like that without any consideration of the health implications to the workers, it only compounds the insult to injury that they’re experiencing.”
Casino smoking in other areas
For the past two years, dealers of Atlantic City in New Jersey are urging their state lawmakers to ban casino smoking. A bill for the smoking ban in nine casinos in the city is currently in the hands of the Legislature. The state Governor Phil Murphy said he will support the bill and will sign it if passed.
Chairman of global Hard Rock casino said on Monday that he meets with the Governor multiple times to discuss the “economic challenges” if the ban is implemented.
The smoking ban is currently implemented in commercial casinos in twenty states including Massachusetts. More than 150 tribal gaming venues are operating smoke-free in the state as reported by the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights organization.
There are currently nine states allowing smoking inside commercial casinos, but bans still occur in said states in smaller areas. Smoking in casinos is banned in areas in Indiana and Louisiana. Two major casinos in Pennsylvania voluntarily are smoke-free as well.
“It’s time to close these loopholes that give casinos special treatment,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of ANR, in a statement.