Rep. Tanzi, casino workers deliver letter to State Treasurer urging support for smokefree shareholder proposal at Bally’s

May 10, 2024 1:47 PM
  • CDC Newswire
May 10, 2024 1:47 PM

Providence, RI — Ahead of the Rhode Island House Finance Committee hearing on HB 7500 – aimed at closing the casino smoking loophole — Representative Tanzi, a lead bill sponsor, joined by casino workers, delivered a letter yesterday to State Treasurer James Diossa urging him to vote in favor of a shareholder proposal to study the potential cost savings through the implementation of a smokefree policy across Bally’s properties. The letter also pressed the treasurer to announce the state’s support ahead of the shareholder meeting on May 16, sending a clear message to other shareholders as they consider this crucial vote.

Casino workers, health advocates, and workers’ unions were gathered at the Rhode Island State Capitol for a day of action aimed at urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive smokefree legislation.

“We’re risking our lives every day just by showing up for work. In the year 2024, we know too much about the risks of secondhand smoke – with mounting evidence and public support – to be settling for anything less than the same protections granted to everyone else in the state,” Bill DelSanto said, a table games dealer at Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and a member of Rhode Island’s Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects. “These hearings are a positive step forward to finally closing the casino smoking loophole, but we can’t stop halfway in ensuring a healthier and safer environment for all. We call upon lawmakers to stand with us in prioritizing public health and worker safety by passing comprehensive smokefree legislation without delay.”

The day of action and Rhode Island’s legislative efforts add to the ongoing campaign for smokefree policies nationwide, aligning with the lead-up to Bally’s Corporation’s shareholder meeting on May 16th. Shareholders from American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation and Trinity Health submitted a proposal to study the potential cost savings through the adoption of a smokefree policy for Bally’s properties. The state of Rhode Island holds shares in Bally’s through its state pension fund, positioning the state as a key player in the shareholder decision-making process.

“I have been working to advance my legislation, H-7500, to end indoor smoking at casinos. Casino workers are Rhode Islanders, parents, caregivers, taxpayers and human beings, and they deserve the same protections as everyone else in our state. It is fundamentally wrong to say that no one should be exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace, but carve out an exception that leaves one group of workers not only unprotected, but in fact, bathed in smoke every day,” Representative Teresa Tanzi said. “The shareholder proposal is another way to ensure Bally’s protects its workers. The state’s public commitment to voting in favor of the proposal would send a clear message that Rhode Island has the backs of our hard-working residents who have put up with this dangerous work environment for far too long.”

Recently, Bally’s Corporation announced the opening of a new section designated for non-smoking at its Twin River casino in Lincoln, RI. However, casino workers gathered at the Capitol emphasized that such measures are insufficient, as non-smoking sections fail to address the pervasive issue of secondhand smoke exposure in casinos. Smoking sections, smoking rooms, and ventilation systems do not address the health hazards of secondhand smoke, according to CDC, the US Surgeon General, and ASHRAE.