Casino workers in Rhode Island state held an anti-smoking campaign in the past. But, the state didn't ban the practice on all its casinos' premises.
Workers in two casinos have re-ignited their smoking ban advocating for smoke-free casinos in 2023. They claim that a player who smokes inhales tobacco and other players near them inhale the smoke that they emit thus being passive smokers.
Rhode Island's laxity in banning indoor smoking at Bally's Tiverton and Bally's Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort irks some casino employees. The two casinos are the only gaming operators in the state that subject workers and other players to secondhand smoke.
The state passed a Public Health and Workplace Safety Act in 2004 that offers Bally's two gaming properties smoking exemptions. It allows them to seclude part of the gaming space for indoor smoking. But the smoking zones need to be physically separated from the non-smoking gaming floor and have separate ventilation systems.
Even so, some non-smoking players and most casino employees have expressed their frustrations of late about the casinos allowing tobacco smoking despite their safety measures. Teresa Tanzi (D-Narrgansett) a State Representative promises to continue her regulation efforts in 2023 to close Rhode Island's casino smoking loophole.
She adds that it is appalling for casinos not to offer their staff the same protection that other employees get in their workplaces. The representative informed The Boston Globe that secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke lacks a safe level. She intends t reintroduce the legislation once the Rhode Island General Assembly meets in January for the 2023 session.
The Formation of Grassroot Movements
Tanzi stated that she is determined to change Rhode Island's casino smoking regulations for the workers' safety. Vanessa Baker, Bally's Tiverton's gaming floor supervisor, also told the Globe that she has worked in smoke-filled gaming venues for three decades and it has adversely affected her health. She uses a nebulizer, two inhalers and has a daily dose of 10 medications.
Baker is a nonsmoker and she accuses her workplace of deteriorating her respiratory health. She boldly said that the casino must stop poisoning its workers and sacrificing their health to make more profit.
The gaming supervisor is among local casino employees who are campaigning for a change in indoor casino smoking regulation. The workers' group chartered "Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE)," a local anti-smoking organization that they founded in Atlantic City in 2021.
CEASE Rhode Island released a statement saying that Rhode Island must stop risking its casino workers' health. The rest of its hospitality sector has been smoke-free for over 17 years thus making it unfair for casinos to neglect workers' safety and solely concentrate on increasing their revenue.
A Democrat Opposes the Anti-Smoking Campaign
Tanzi faces several hurdles before she succeeds in changing the Providence capital's indoor casino smoking laws. Senate President, Dominick Ruggerio, believes that Bally's properties should continue allowing smoking.
The senator terms Tanzi's anti-smoking bill as unnecessary since Bally's Lincoln's management agreed last year to make the casino's first floor smoke-free once it launches in 2023. Besides, the Twin River casino is developing another smoking area on its second floor with an upgraded ventilation system.