June 2, 2022
NEW: Majority of South Jersey Assembly Democrats Support Closing Casino Smoking Loophole
Milestone Reached as Assemblymembers William Spearman and Carol Murphy Cosponsor Bill to End Smoking Inside Casinos
Trenton, NJ— With New Jersey State Assemblymembers William Spearman and Carol Murphy signing on as co-sponsors, support for legislation to protect the health of Atlantic City casino workers has now crossed a key threshold – a majority of South Jersey Assembly Democrats are now co-sponsoring the bill.
“Passing this legislation is the least we can do for frontline casino employees who worked throughout the pandemic, keeping our already struggling gaming industry open for business during some of the bleakest moments over the last couple of years,” said Assemblymember Spearman. “We know that a healthy, smokefree indoor casino industry is good for business and even better for workers.”
“The dangers of secondhand smoke have been well documented for many years and for Atlantic City casino workers, getting rid of smoking in their workplace is a life-or-death fight,” said Assemblymember Murphy. “We cannot continue ignoring the health risks to our state’s casino workers. I’m proud to cosponsor A2151 and I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation when it comes to the chamber.”
“This is a significant milestone for advancing this legislation that will literally save lives,” said Pete Naccarelli, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), which has organized thousands of AC casino workers since smoking returned in July 2021. “We are grateful for the support of Assemblymembers Spearman and Murphy. South Jersey Assembly Democrats are standing with us in this critical fight to finally close the casino smoking loophole.”
“We thank Assemblymembers Murphy and Spearman and the majority of South Jersey Democrats who have signed on to A2151,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Their support is critical to advancing this legislation to a committee hearing, where we know the bill will pass with flying colors.”
A2151 is now co-sponsored by 35 members of the Assembly. The other South Jersey Assembly Democrats co-sponsoring the bill are:
- Deputy Speaker Paul Moriarty
- Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera
- Assemblyman William Moen
- Assemblyman and Health Committee Chair Herb Conaway
A2151 “[e]liminates [the] smoking ban exemption for casinos and simulcasting facilities” and is identical to S264 in the Senate. The primary sponsors are Assemblyman William Moen (D), Health Committee Chair Herb Conaway (D), and Deputy Speaker Paul Moriarty (D).
In the Senate, the primary sponsors of S264 are Health Committee Chair Joseph Vitale (D) and Senator Shirley Turner (D). The full list of 15 co-sponsors – consisting of 11 Democrats and four Republicans – can be viewed here.
Governor Phil Murphy has repeatedly said he’d sign the legislation.
CNBC recently aired a piece on this issue that highlighted the stakes for casino workers. “[Tammy] Brady is on medical leave, getting treatment for breast cancer. “I’m worried about going back to my job in a smoking environment,” she told CNBC, tears streaming down her face.
Undercutting a key argument from casinos about why they oppose protecting their employees from the known dangers of secondhand smoke, the Associated Press reported last month that New Jersey casinos generated more revenue in April from in-person gambling than they did before the pandemic in April 2019.
Further, NJ Online Gambling reports that Atlantic City casinos this year posted the highest first-quarter profits since at least 2008. The Associated Press wrote that “Atlantic City’s casinos collectively saw their profitability increase in the first quarter of this year compared not only with a year earlier, but also to the pre-pandemic period.”
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/.