Workers and Citizens Urge Investors to Push for Smoking Ban in NJ Casinos

Casino workers and health care system proponents have sent proposals to casino investors to ban indoor smoking inside casino halls and game floors. 

The United Auto Workers, a union that represents the workers in prominent casino operators in New Jersey, and Trinity Health, a health care system based in Michigan have sent proposals as part of the agenda of the annual shareholder meetings of big-name gambling companies to look into the possible financial benefits of having a smoke-free workplace, on top of its health benefits.

Cynthia Hallett, president of the non-smokers group, stated that many shareholders will be surprised to learn that these casino companies still allow indoor smoking, even in the year 2024, and that the policy is harming the very workers who were instrumental in the companies generating billions of dollars in revenue in 2023. 

“If casinos will not do the right thing on their own, then we will continue to explore every avenue to protect the well-being of workers and patrons,” Hallett added.

Pete Naccarelli, a longtime dealer at a well-known casino and a leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, a group of workers pushing to end smoking at Atlantic City’s nine casinos, stated that workers like himself risk their lives every day just by going to work. 

“It’s unacceptable, and long past time for casino corporations to end this outdated business practice. The least the casinos can do is study the impact of indoor smoking,” Naccarelli said.

Historically, shareholder proposals face long odds of being approved and implemented. A study last month by the Conference Board found that 913 shareholder proposals were filed in 2023, and 71% were voted on, receiving an average support of 23%.

Long Time Coming

Casino workers and non-smoking citizens have been up in arms trying to sway legislators to get indoor smoking banned in casino halls in Atlantic City for the past three years. This has led some of the affected casino workers to file a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the long-standing smoking ban that exempts casinos on the grounds that the environment renders the casino workers not covered by the protections of a clean workplace air act.

The Casino Association of New Jersey declined to comment on the lawsuit. But the association opposes a smoking ban, as it believes that it would put Atlantic City at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states that still allow smoking inside their casino halls.

Donna DeCaprio, president of Local 54 of the Unite Here casino workers union, stated that Atlantic City’s core business, in the form of winnings from in-person gamblers, continues to struggle. She warned lawmakers against doing anything to make the already serious problem worse.

“Alarm bells should be ringing in Atlantic City and in Trenton as to both the short-term and long-term negative economic trends,” DeCaprio stated. “Representatives in the New Jersey Legislature must understand the perilous economic situation at hand for my members, and indeed all workers in Atlantic City.”


Last Updated on by jonathan r

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