June 14, 2022
Atlantic City, NJ— New Jersey physician groups and public health advocates are calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation to get rid of smoking inside Atlantic City casinos, citing the dangerous and unhealthy working conditions that casino workers are forced to endure. In a letter sent to Senate President Scutari, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Vitale and Assembly Health Committee Chair Conaway, the coalition is urging the legislators to hold a hearing on A2151 and S264 and bring the bills to the floor of each chamber for a vote.
“We are writing to urge you to hold a hearing on, and then put forth for a full floor vote in your respective chambers, legislation that would eliminate the casino smoking loophole and protect casino workers from breathing dangerous secondhand smoke while on the job,” wrote the doctors and public health advocates. “In response to thousands of Atlantic City casino workers speaking out against indoor smoking at their workplaces, S264/A2151 has gained bipartisan support from legislators in South Jersey and across the state. The level of support is staggering: nearly half of Senators, and nearly half of Assembly members, have signed on as co-sponsors. A majority of members sitting on the Senate and Assembly Health Committees are co-sponsors. A majority of South Jersey Assembly Democrats is co-sponsoring the bill, while every legislator from Atlantic City has signed onto the bill. These bills will pass with flying colors, and Governor Murphy has repeatedly said he’d sign the legislation.”
The letter was signed by American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; American Heart Association; American Lung Association; Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights; Atlantic Prevention Resources; Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids; Medical Society of New Jersey; New Jersey Prevention Network; and New Jersey Public Health Association.
The letter continues, “Every day that passes is another day in which these workers are unnecessarily exposed to the toxic chemicals from their smoke-filled workplace. The scientific evidence is clear: There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes serious diseases and premature death among nonsmokers. That’s why all workplaces and public places, including restaurants, bars and casinos should be smoke-free. Everyone deserves the right to breathe smokefree air.”
“The state and national leading public health organizations listed below urge you to advance this legislation to close the casino smoking loophole and ensure a safer, healthier environment for our friends, family members and neighbors who work in New Jersey casinos and are exposed to hazardous secondhand smoke each day while trying to make a living. This protection is long overdue,” they wrote.
The union representing Atlantic City casino dealers, United Auto Workers (UAW), has also urged legislators to hold hearings on the bipartisan bills, S264 and A2151. “Our members include dealers who sit inches away from patrons who blow smoke directly into their face for eight hours a day, every single day. It is simply unacceptable knowing what we know about the dangers of secondhand smoke. It is unacceptable knowing that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can be harmful to someone’s health. According to the CDC, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals of which hundreds are toxic and at least 70 can cause cancer. No worker in the state of NJ should be forced to breathe cancer causing chemicals every single day.”
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/. ###