December 8, 2022
After 45 Years of AC Casinos, It’s Long Past Time to End Indoor Smoking
Atlantic City, NJ— Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans For Nonsmokers’ Rights, issued the following statement as Atlantic City marks 45 years of casino gambling:
“The New Jersey gaming industry celebrates a historic milestone this week with the 45-year anniversary of the Casino Control Act, which legalized gambling in the state. Since 1977, the rate of smokers in the US has declined from 36% to only 12% today. Despite this dramatic decline, casinos continue to prioritize perceived profits from this dwindling group over the health of their workers.
“Forty-five years since the first casinos in Atlantic City opened, it is long past time to get rid of indoor smoking so that workers are not forced to choose between their health and a paycheck. Legislation to close the casino smoking loophole has more than enough votes to pass. And yet, some legislators are deferring to the industry and needlessly delaying the bills for as long as possible.
“Times have changed. The majority of people prefer a smokefree environment and casinos that do not allow indoor smoking are more successful than their smoke-filled competitors. Casino executives and New Jersey lawmakers now have the opportunity to position Atlantic City as a leader in the industry by getting rid of indoor smoking and taking a clear stance to protect the health and safety of workers and guests. It’s the right thing to do and must be done now.”
Legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole has earned more cosponsors than most other bills this legislative session in Trenton. It has been over 500 days since smoking returned to Atlantic City casinos and legislation to get rid of smoking is now cosponsored by 45 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 United Auto Workers (UAW), the union representing Atlantic City casino dealers, is urging legislative leaders 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.
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/.