|Atlantic City, NJ – Lamont White, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), released the following statement as Governor Murphy was sworn in to his second term today:
“Governor Murphy has repeatedly said he’ll sign legislation to close the casino smoking loophole and protect us from dangerous secondhand smoke. Now that he’s officially begun his new term, it’s time for him to press the case to legislators to get this done. Every day that goes by is another day we risk our health at work. We need the Governor to make good on his pledges and demonstrate leadership. We won’t stop pushing him until the bill reaches his desk and he signs it into law.”
Last week, six state senators re-introduced bipartisan legislation to close the casino smoking loophole. Senator Vince Polistina, who represents Atlantic City and thousands of casino workers, said that “the legislation could come up for a vote within the next month or two.” Additionally, reporter David Danzis of Play NJ, who has covered the Atlantic City gaming industry for years, said on a radio show this morning that “smoking in casinos is on life support…we’re talking weeks if not months, smoking in Atlantic City casinos is just gonna be done. Completely gone.”
Assembly Health Committee Chair Herb Conaway said last month that “I’d like to get it done,” Conaway, a physician and the Burlington County health director, said. “We have a number of employees who, as a condition of their work, are exposed to this carcinogen.”
Play NJ named the casino loophole as one of five stories to watch in 2022: “The most likely [bill] to see swift action is a total smoking ban inside Atlantic City casinos. The gambling parlors are among the state’s last exemptions for allowing indoor smoking. COVID-19 makes this a public health issue and lawmakers will not want to hear about lost revenue for casinos.”
Last month, two key legislators announced their co-sponsorship of smokefree casino legislation. Deputy Speaker Paul Moriarty became the fourth prime sponsor of the bill, and Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), who is the Senate Majority Conference Leader and a member of the Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee, signed on in the Senate.
During his December 20 press conference, Governor Phil Murphy once again voiced his support for eliminating the casino smoking loophole in state law that exposes casino workers to secondhand smoke at their workplaces. “If a bill came to my desk that did ban [smoking in casinos], I would sign it,” said Murphy.
A new video published last month, “A Loophole in NJ Law Is Killing Casino Workers,” highlights the urgency of the casino workers’ fight to close the casino loophole.
Casino Employees Against Smoking’s (Harmful) Effects (CEASE) is a group of thousands of casino dealers and other frontline gaming workers that formed after indoor smoking returned on July 4, 2021 and is fighting to permanently remove smoking from our workplaces. For more information, visit ceasesmoking.org.