Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects addresses the Shreveport City Councilmembers

During the Shreveport City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 9, many community members addressed the council about the issue of rolling back the ban on smoking inside casinos.

In 2020, councilmembers passed Ordinance No. 51, which prohibited smoking of any kind in any park or playground as well as bars and casinos, with the exception of hookah bars and cigar bars. That year, Shreveport became the 30th city in the state to pass a smoke-free ordinance in all workplaces.

Councilman Gary Brooks and Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor are the city council members heading this revision to the ordinance. While the revision would allow smoking in the casinos, at least 25% of the space would have to remain smoke-free. The bars, restaurants and hotel areas likely would be the only smoke-free places.

Live Blog: Smoking ban, downtown safety top topics at Shreveport City Council meeting

A multi-state coalition of frontline casino workers plan to send a letter to the city council urging its members to reject the ordinance the would bring smoking back inside casinos.

Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) represents frontline workers in more than five states where they are fighting to get rid of indoor smoking to protect their health. While there isn't an official CEASE chapter in Shreveport, because the workers here were already protected by the no-smoking policy, they are pushing to help local workers fight the rollback of the ordinance.

Smoke Free Louisiana at Sand Bar
Smoke Free Louisiana at Sand Bar

The letter to the Shreveport City Council reads as follows:

Dear Shreveport Council Members,We write as leaders of the nationwide, worker-led movement to end indoor smoking at casinos in order to protect our health from the known, dangerous effects of breathing secondhand smoke every day for hours on end at our job. We are known as Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, or CEASE, and since we started in Atlantic City, New Jersey, we have expanded to form chapters in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, with several more set to be announced in the coming days. Truthfully, we don’t have an active chapter in Shreveport because this issue was settled two years ago. It’s also difficult to speak out against your employer when you risk losing your job by doing so. Our colleagues at your city’s casinos have been enjoying a smokefree workplace that most workers in America enjoy, not worried about jeopardizing their health in exchange for a paycheck. That’s because of the action you as the city council took – you did the right thing. It was the right thing then, and it’s the right thing to maintain the smokefree policy, regardless of what the Big Casino lobbyists tell you. By voting for this misguided and dangerous ordinance, you would be giving the greenlight to pregnant women working as table games dealers having to breathe secondhand smoke for eight hours a day. You would be saying it’s OK that workers like us are getting diagnoses of cancer, heart disease, COPD, asthma and other unacceptable conditions that our peers working other jobs don’t have to confront. You would be moving your city backwards when cities, states and Tribes across the country are going the other direction to protect workers’ health. Don’t be fooled by arguments about fancy, expensive ventilation systems. When a cigarette is lit three feet in front of our faces, the smoke must go through us before it reaches any filtration device. Our lungs are the ventilation systems. Even with the most state-of-the-art system, the experts in manufacturing these systems have stated clearly that there is no system in existence that can remove the hazards of secondhand smoke from these environments. These arguments have been debunked in New Jersey and Rhode Island and gaming markets across the country. Don’t let them fool you, as if you don’t have access to the facts. It’s imperative that you vote against this ordinance that would once again force workers like us to choose between our health and a paycheck. Shreveport is better than this, and the casino workers you represent deserve better than a return to the past. Don’t put the perception of higher profits and the sweet-talking lobbyists ahead of your hard-working constituents and their health. We would be happy to speak with you via Zoom or phone to answer any questions you may have.Sincerely,Pete Nacarelli, CEASE co-founder

Lamont White, CEASE co-founder

Nicole Vitola, CEASE co-founder

The installation of Shreveport City Council on December 31, 2022, at the Shreveport Convention Center.
The installation of Shreveport City Council on December 31, 2022, at the Shreveport Convention Center.

In addition to the letter, a rally has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, at Government Plaza in downtown Shreveport.

The city council plans to vote on amending Ordinance 51 at the council meeting at 3 p.m. that day.

Meredith G. White is the arts and culture reporter for the Shreveport Times. You can find her on Facebook as Meredith G. White, on Instagram and Twitter as @meredithgwhite, and email her at

This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: National organization CEASE sends letter to Shreveport city council