About 250 casino workers gathered in a park on Tuesday to call on lawmakers to pass a bill that would end casinos’ exemption from the indoor smoking ban.
US.- With New Jersey bill S264 and Assembly Bill 2151 apparently gaining support in the House, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) met yesterday (Tuesday) to voice their support for a ban on smoking in casinos.
The rally marked the 16th anniversary of the banning on indoor smoking in New Jersey via the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006. Casinos remain the only exception to the act. Smoking at casinos was temporarily banned during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 but were allowed to permit smoking again in July last year.
Lamont White, a dealer at the Borgata casino, said: “Sixteen years ago the state of New Jersey left us behind in the smoke. We are not numbers; we are people.”
Casinos have largely remained opposed to a permanent ban. The Casino Association of New Jersey, the trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos, recently commissioned a report predicting widespread job losses and revenue declines if smoking were banned. Atlantic City.
“Atlantic City has yet to see growth from pre-pandemic levels,” association president Joe Lupo said. “Employment at our casinos is at a 20-year low, with less than 50 per cent of the workforce from 2003.”.
“And land-based casino revenue remains at an almost 50 per cent decrease from our peak in 2006,” he added. “Adding a smoking ban could cause a devastating effect to the community and state.”
However, a bipartisan group of legislators is seeking support for an across-the-board smoking ban at the casinos.
Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said in a statement: “We applaud this bipartisan group of legislators from across New Jersey who understand that worker health must be a priority.
Governor Phil Murphy has said that he would sign such a bill, ending the exemption for casinos in New Jersey’s public health law.
See also: Atlantic City casino smoking ban delayed
The bill has not yet had a hearing in the state Legislature, although it continues to gather support from lawmakers of both parties. It has 28 co-sponsors in the Assembly and 15 in the senate, including majorities of the health committees in both houses.
“No employer should be allowed to knowingly subject their workers to a carcinogen,” said Assembly member Benjie Wimberly in a news release. “I’m co-sponsoring A2151 to protect casino workers from the harmful effects of what has been documented to those who breathe in secondhand smoke. The time is now to get this done.”