As Hispanic Heritage Month Begins, Smokefree Casino Advocates Highlight Disproportionate Burden on Latino Workers
Latinos Make Up About 20% of Gaming Workforce, More Than Most Industries
September 15, 2021
Berkeley, CA– In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins today, Cynthia Hallett, President and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, issued the following statement:
“As National Hispanic Heritage Month begins, we recognize the contributions of Hispanic workers that have fueled a thriving gaming industry that has been setting revenue records this year. According to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry employs a far more diverse workforce than most other industries in America, with Hispanic employees accounting for nearly 20% of the workforce.
“Unfortunately, too many Hispanic casino employees and their colleagues must breathe dangerous secondhand smoke at work in states with a casino loophole, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Nevada. We know those bearing the brunt of risk are not executives in their smokefree offices, but the diverse frontline workforce on the casino floor. It’s past time for elected leaders to close these loopholes and stop forcing all workers to choose between their health and a paycheck.”
In an op-ed published this month in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mike Danay, a casino worker with nearly two decades of experience in both Atlantic City and Pennsylvania casinos tells his story of working in a smoke-filled environment—and calls on elected leaders to stop forcing him and his peers to choose between their health and a paycheck.
Further, casino workers are speaking out. “In my 20 years as a dealer, I’ve seen too many of my coworkers develop serious health issues directly related to secondhand smoke,” said Borgata dealer Nicole Vitola. "I was pregnant with my son, and I was in, I had to be in a high roller room with six people smoking cigars and I had to just stand there and deal, and I did."
As more and more casinos have gone smokefree indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called smokefree casino policies a "silver lining" of the pandemic.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS' RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.