Casino workers in Kansas have joined together and created an organization that seeks to stop smoking in casinos. The Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (C.E.A.S.E) Kansas charter, founded by casino security worker Joe Hafley, is the fourth of the CEASE group in the nation.
“We are joining our peers from across the country and launching CEASE Kansas to demand a clean and safe working environment for the thousands of workers who are the backbone of the gaming industry,” Joe Hafley, founder of CEASE Kansas, said in a news release.
According to CEASE, which first launched its anti-smoking efforts in New Jersey, Kansas is one of eleven states that still allow smoking inside casinos. Hafley said that second-hand smoke is giving him health problems.
"I've been working in a casino for almost five and half years. Just tired of dealing with the smoke and getting home and smelling like smoke every day, having to take a shower as soon as I get home," Hafley said, as reported by KCTV 5. "I have been diagnosed with COPD, and I also have bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep throat once a year since I started working in the casino."
Hafley added that several local lawmakers have sponsored legislation to get rid of smoking in casinos, but those bills have not become law, meaning the loophole that allows second-hand smoke in their workplaces is still in place.
The CEASE group was first formed in an effort to eliminate smoking on casino floors in Atlantic City and is now part of a national worker coalition. They have charters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
“Casino workers all over the country are sick and tired of risking our health over the false perception that casinos will make more money by allowing the outdated practice of indoor smoking,” Pete Naccarelli, a co-founder of CEASE, said when the Kansas charter was announced.
For its part, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission told local media that, as a regulatory body, the KRGC is neutral on this issue and does not take a position. "KRGC enforces state statue and regulations, which currently, allow for smoking on the casino floor," Randy Evans, KRGC government relations manager, told KSNW.