January 19, 2023
AC Casino Dealer Union Urges NJ Senate President & Speaker to Act on Smoking Bill
“We Are The Only Union Representing These Workers Who Are Most Affected By Secondhand Smoke Exposure In Atlantic City. We Are Dismayed By The Delay In Action To Advance These Bipartisan Bills.”
Atlantic City, NJ — The labor union representing casino workers most affected by secondhand smoke exposure is again calling on New Jersey lawmakers to pass legislation to close the casino smoking loophole to protect the health of their members. In a letter sent to Senate President Nick Scutari and Speaker Craig Coughlin, the United Auto Workers (UAW) called out the unacceptable delay in advancing this critical legislation that has the support of more than half of the entire legislature.
The letter comes as the Associated Press reports that Atlantic City casinos posted 2022 revenue figures that match the all-time high for the market. UAW represents more than 1,200 workers in Atlantic City casinos, including dealers at Caesars, Bally’s, and Tropicana, who are the most affected workers in a casino, as their job requires them to spend their entire shift an arm’s length from smokers.
“We are the only union representing these workers who are most affected by secondhand smoke exposure in Atlantic City,” writes Patrick Ashton, UAW International Representative. “We are dismayed by the delay in action to advance these bipartisan bills, S264 and A2151. Your members are overwhelmingly supportive, with 23 of 40 senators and 51 of 80 assembly members co-sponsoring the respective bills. It’s past time to hold committee hearings and full votes in each chamber. There is no doubt they would pass easily.”
“We know you’re hearing from casino and tobacco industry lobbyists and executives who will always find a reason to fight this common-sense legislation. Enough is enough,” the letter continues. “Failing to act to close the casino smoking loophole – a special exemption given to one industry that can afford to hire an army of lobbyists – is simply unacceptable. We know too much about the dangers of secondhand smoke.”
The letter also noted that Atlantic City casinos can thrive without indoor smoke causing a slow death to their employees. “It’s important to note that two of the biggest rivals to Atlantic City casinos in the Philadelphia market are Parx Casino and Rivers Philly – and both are voluntarily smokefree,” writes Ashton. “Additionally, independent gaming experts released a report finding that going smokefree will likely be good for business in Atlantic City; the only contradicting argument provided by casinos is through a report bought and paid for by them.”
UAW last year similarly wrote lawmakers urging them to advance bills to close the smoking loophole. UFCW Local 152, which represents 16,000 retail, manufacturing, and healthcare workers in South Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware, also supports eliminating the casino smoking loophole.
Legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole has earned more cosponsors than most other bills this legislative session in Trenton. It has been over 550 days since smoking returned to Atlantic City casinos and legislation to get rid of smoking is now cosponsored by 51 state assembly members and 23 state senators– a bipartisan majority in both chambers.
S264 and A2151 are identical bills that “[e]liminates [the] smoking ban exemption for casinos and simulcasting facilities.”
Governor Phil Murphy has repeatedly affirmed that he’d sign the legislation, most recently saying, “At the end of the day, we will still get good business. Atlantic City is an American gem. We’ve got the ocean and the other competitors don’t. And this is the right thing for our respective health.”
A report by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that casinos without indoor smoking outperform their smoking counterparts and that Atlantic City would not lose gamblers to the handful of remaining eastern Pennsylvania casinos that allow indoor smoking.
The leading organization dealing with gambling addiction has warned legislators that continuing to allow indoor smoking at Atlantic City casinos will only continue to encourage gambling addiction, but that passing bipartisan bills, S264 and A2151, to close the casino smoking loophole would help to address this concern.
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/.