February 23, 2022

Casino Dealer: “Casinos’ Blatant Disregard for Our Well-Being is Disgraceful”

Atlantic City, NJ – Atlantic City casino workers and advocates today released the following response to an industry-funded study made public today by the Casino Association of New Jersey:

“This study, paid for by the casino industry, shows once again that they care more about outdated business practices than they do about the lives and health of their workers,” said Nicole Vitola, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE). “Casinos’ blatant disregard for our well-being is disgraceful, especially after they just received tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks from the State. We cannot continue to choose between our health and a paycheck, and Governor Murphy and a growing, bipartisan group of legislators will not be swayed by the same old casino lobbyist talking points.”

“These are the scare tactics we expect from the Casino Association of New Jersey, but they are not enough to change the minds of the large, bipartisan coalition, including Governor Murphy, that supports finally closing the casino smoking loophole and protecting worker health,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Their arguments are flawed on several points. First, the study fails to account for the typical rebound in revenue and jobs that occurs after one year of going smokefree. Why is there no projection in their report about what happens after the first year? Second, the gaming industry fails to account for the current employment numbers that are far below pre-pandemic levels and how they have become accustomed to operating with fewer workers. Claims about job losses are not based on current employment levels. Finally, the report presumes Pennsylvania casinos will permit smoking – but Parx Casino, the state’s top revenue generator, and several others, have voluntarily adopted a smokefree indoor policy. Enough of the scare tactics based on myths – it’s time to get this bill passed.”

American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller has said that casinos that have gone smokefree have done so “without detrimental effect” and that the decision “hasn’t led to a decrease in business.”

A new video, “A Loophole in NJ Law Is Killing Casino Workers,” published by More Perfect Union, highlights the urgency of the casino workers’ fight to close the casino loophole.

On January 12, the first full day of New Jersey’s current legislative session, six senators re-introduced S264 (previously S1878), which “eliminates [the] smoking ban exemption for casinos and simulcasting facilities,” protecting casino workers from exposure to dangerous secondhand smoke. The primary sponsors of the bill are Senators Shirley Turner (D) and Joseph Vitale (D), and it is co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan (D); Teresa Ruiz (D), who is also the majority leader; Vince Polistina (R); Vin Gopal (D), Micahel Testa (R), and former Governor and current Senator Richard Codey (D). A2151 has also been introduced in the Assembly with bipartisan support.

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/.