After 15 years of dealing cards on the Las Vegas Strip, I equate smokers as customers
who might as well just spit in my face. The toxic
fumes from the burning end of a cigarette become apparent when, during and 8 hour
shift in a casino, a dealer has 1 or more chain smokers gambling at my table and,
eventually, her eyes burn and turn blood red. The sinuses drain uncontrollably.
We start to sneeze and cough up phlegm and get earaches. This is just the tip
of the iceberg!
After 15 years of sucking up deadly secondhand tobacco smoke, I have spent too
much time in emergency rooms of hospitals and under a doctors care for bronchitis,
strepp throat, sinus infections, ear infections, chest pains, high blood pressure,
headaches, stomach distress, and dizzy spells. For several years, I just went
to doctors with my symptoms and the first question the doctor would ask me was
if I was a smoker? I said I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I also said,
I never really thought much about it. Then about five years ago, I
once again was ill from the same symptoms. Finally, a doctor told me that I have
the casino workers disease. I asked, What is that?
This doctor told me it was because I worked in a casino and was exposed to secondhand
Some tobacco smokers in the casinos can be so cruel and heartless to a blackjack
dealer. The message that casino managers are sending out to customers is that
since smoking is allowed in casinos and at 21 Tables it must be okay for this
type of human being (21 Dealers) to be exposed for hours and hours of secondhand
tobacco smoke. Obviously, casino owners and operators do not care about casino
workers and the effects of secondhand smoke. So, if their employers dont
care, why should the smokers care about us?
I recall one of my most painful experiences with secondhand smoke. One night at
my table, three men lit up cigars at the same time. They stayed and played on
my game for hours and had many drinks. After about two solid hours of intense
cigar smoke, I asked them with tear-filled eyes if they would try to keep all
that smoke down out of me face because I was getting ill. They just laughed at
me and cajoled me and replied that that was too bad and that I should go get a
different job. We come to Vegas so we can smoke and drink. It is your job
to put up with us, they said. I was so hurt by their comments because it
made me feel like less then a human being. I was made to feel like I didnt
The final episode involving secondhand smoke happened late one night when four
young girls were all smoking at the same time. They were from Mexico and they
were having a lot of fun and winning a lot of money. They stayed and played at
my table for hours. After three hours of four chain smokers it was obvious that
I was getting very sick. I finally started to ask the girls to try and keep the
smoke down and out of my face. At first they were very nice and made an attempt
to keep it down. But then after a few more drinks, they started to smoke more
and forgot how much it was bothering me. They even made the comment that they
were trying to quit smoking, but when in Vegas they felt they had to smoke. I
finally got to take my 20-minute break, and when I returned to the table no one
was smoking. So, I thought maybe my prayers had been answered. But then within
five minutes of my return, all four girls lit up their cigarettes at the same
time. All of a sudden, I started shaking and coughing. I was so dizzy and disorientated
that the floor person had to step in and finish the round. I was crying uncontrollably
and all I could think about was that I was going to be fired. I was going to be
fired. I was terrified of being fired because I have been threatened so many times
by the shift bosses over the secondhand tobacco smoke issue. But during this episode,
I was out of control. My body was reacting to the extreme rudeness of the customers,
the excessive tobacco smoke, and my fear of being terminated. Very shortly after
that incident at work, I started seeing a physiologist and undergoing intensive
therapy for severe depression and panic attacks. I was on a four-month
leave of absence to try to get well and figure out how to deal with my work issues.
I finally went back to work on January 22nd of 2006 and within two months, I was
suspended once again because I asked a smoker to keep his cigarette down so the
smoke would not go into my face.~ Once again the smoker took offense to my request,
and I am currently suspended pending investigation and anticipating being terminated.
Once again the smoke-filled environment in Vegas ruins the health of 21 dealers.
And as if that isn't bad enough, speaking up about it gets us fired from our jobs.