February 27, 2023
ANR Applauds March 9th Hearing in Assembly, Where 53 Members Are Co-Sponsoring Bill to End Indoor Smoking at Casinos
Casino Workers Have Been Waiting 17 Years for Equal Protection Under State Law
Atlantic City, NJ – Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR), released the following statement after the New Jersey Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee announced a joint hearing on March 9 to discuss legislation to close the casino smoking loophole:
“This hearing – the first-ever held in the New Jersey Assembly on legislation to close the casino smoking loophole – is another important step towards finally protecting the health of Atlantic City casino workers. When the Senate held a hearing earlier this month, we heard the heart-wrenching stories of longtime dealers who have endured more diagnoses, unbearable time in horrendous working conditions, and devastating losses of colleagues and friends. After 17 years, the time is now to treat these workers like every other worker in New Jersey. Dealers bear the brunt of the dangerous secondhand smoke more harshly than anyone else working in casinos, and their voices must carry the most weight.
“If the casinos decide to show up this time to try to defend the indefensible, we expect to hear the same tired arguments that have been thoroughly rebutted and have failed to gain traction with Trenton legislators – a majority of whom are co-sponsoring A2151. We also expect that Local 54 will once again send workers from Philly and threaten some of their Atlantic City-based members to get on a bus to Trenton or lose their job. Last time, many of these workers didn’t even know the issue being debated at the hearing and opposed their leadership’s position. This astroturf effort will fall flat with legislators.
“We are grateful to Committee Chairmen Herb Conaway and Ralph Caputo for scheduling this hearing. We are also appreciative of the efforts by primary sponsors Assemblyman William Moen and Deputy Speaker Paul Moriarty. We look forward to making clear that this bill deserves a vote as soon as possible so that workers no longer must choose between their health and a paycheck.”
Chairman Conaway has repeatedly voiced support for A2151, legislation to close the casino smoking loophole. On January 20, 2022, he wrote: “It’s time to ban smoking inside Atlantic City casinos like other workplaces in New Jersey. We have a number of employees who, as a condition of their work, are exposed to this. Nobody should be forced to decide between going to work and their health.”
In December 2021, Politico reported that Conway said about the bill: “‘I’d like to get it done. We have a number of employees who, as a condition of their work, are exposed to this carcinogen.’ Conaway rejected the idea that eliminating the carve-out would severely damage the casino industry. ‘[A smoking ban] hasn’t killed any other business,’ he said, mentioning restaurants and bars. ‘Many other businesses have survived very well in the wake of this ban. It has not been cited as a drag on our economy…Certainly it has been better for the overall health for the people who work there.’”
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.