|Atlantic City, NJ – Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE) and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights today applauded Assemblyman Bill Moen (D-Camden), Deputy Speaker Paul Moriaty (D-Washington Township) and Health Committee Chair Herb Conaway (D-Delran) after they introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole and finally protect the health of workers and guests alike at Atlantic City casinos.
The bill, A2151 (A4541 last session), “[e]liminates [the] smoking ban exemption for casinos and simulcasting facilities” and is identical to S264 in the Senate. In addition to the three primary sponsors, Assemblywomen Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) and Shanique Speight (D-Essex) have signed on as co-sponsors, while Assemblywoman Claire Swift (R-Atlantic City) and Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City) also plan to sign on as co-sponsors.
“We are confident that because of the leadership of Assemblyman Moen, Deputy Speaker Moriarty, Health Committee Chair Conaway and the many co-sponsors, this bill will advance and our health with finally be protected,” said Nicole Vitola, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), which has organized thousands of AC casino workers since smoking returned in July 2021. “This loophole has existed for far too long. We will not stand for indoor smoking any longer. Our lives should be a priority for the State of New Jersey.”
“I am proud to be a leader on an issue that is critically important to casino employees and their visitors,” said Assemblyman Moen. “My goal is to create a policy to address this pressing public health issue, while working with stakeholders to ensure that Atlantic City and our casino industry thrive. I look forward to engaging our legislative leadership, advocates and industry partners to grow legislative support among my colleagues to get this bill on the Governor’s desk for his approval.”
“It is unconscionable that any workers in New Jersey would knowingly be subjected to carcinogens in the workplace,” said Assemblyman Moriarty. “It is time for New Jersey to treat casino employees as equal to other service industry workers and prohibit smoking in casinos.”
Assemblyman Moriarty previously announced his support for eliminating the casino smoking loophole on December 14, 2021, when he became the fourth primary sponsor of A4541. Health Committee Chair Conaway has said repeatedly he wants to get this bill across the finish line as soon as possible.
“We are building momentum to finally do the right thing and protect Atlantic City casino workers from dangerous secondhand smoke,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “We thank Assemblyman Moen, Deputy Speaker Moriarty and Chair Conaway for leading the way to pass this vital legislation that ensures casino workers do not have to choose between their health and a paycheck.”
In the Senate, the bipartisan S264 currently has nine co-sponsors – six Democrats and three Republicans. 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); and Vin Gopal (D); Michael Testa (R-Vineland); Robert Singer (R-Lakewood ); and former Governor and current Senator Richard Codey.
A new video, “A Loophole in NJ Law Is Killing Casino Workers,” highlights the urgency of the casino workers’ fight to close the casino loophole.
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/.