PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – It’s been five days since Rivers Casino opened in Portsmouth.

Smoking is allowed on the game floor, but there are designated areas for non-smoking.

The non-smoking areas are where Dr. Raffarele Marchigiani, a Sentara Brock Cancer Center Thoracic Surgeon, recommends non-smokers visit.

“You are being exposed to all the detriments of smoking that the person who is actually doing the smoking gets,” he said. “I would say the more you are exposed to it, the more your risk goes up.” 

The risk could cause negative health impacts.

“Even brief exposure does cause changes in the blood vessel lining and the stickiness of platelets. We know even brief exposures to secondhand smoke increases a person’s risk of heart attack and negative health impacts,” Dr. Marlene Capps, the Chief Clinical Officer for Bon Secours Hampton Roads, said.

Pete Naccarelli is a casino dealer in Atlantic City. He isn’t able to limit his time exposed to smoke. It’s because it’s his job and how he supports his family.

“They are blowing smoke directly in our faces. There is no ventilation system. We are the filter,” Naccarelli said. “A lot of us have been in this business a long time. It is the only way we have to feed our family. We are worried about tomorrow. I’m worried about going to the doctor.” 

Naccarelli and other casino employees are working to change the law inside New Jersey casinos. He has co-founded a group called Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effect to push legislation forward. He hopes it spreads nationwide.

“The bottom line is 87 percent of Americans don’t smoke, 13 percent do,” Naccarelli said. “Why are the casinos catering to the 13 percent that does and while endangering the lives that don’t?”

Some experts said the casino may see itself as having a competitive edge by allowing smoking inside.

10 On Your Side reached out to Rivers Casino about our poll. It shows 81% of viewers who took the poll wouldn’t visit because the casino allows smoking.

A representative for the casino said:

“Rivers Casino Portsmouth has designated non-smoking areas throughout the facility, including all restaurants, BetRivers Sportsbook, The Sound Bar, Topgolf, The Event Center, and the poker room.

We’re grateful for the community’s support of our grand opening and always welcome feedback from our guests.