Concerned about the effects of secondhand smoking on their health, casino employees have proposed a new deadline for the passage of legislation that would eliminate a loophole in New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act.
Members of CEASE — Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects — published a video on Tuesday, ahead of Gov. Phil Murphy’s State of the State address, pressing lawmakers to implement a smoking ban in casinos by April 15.
This date marks the 17th anniversary of the state’s smoke-free law, which prohibits smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces. It has been expanded to cover beaches and parks since then.
Pete Naccarelli, a dealer at Borgata, stated, “This essentially makes us the only group of workers in the state compelled to pick between our health and our paycheck.”
At the height of the coronavirus outbreak, casinos in Atlantic City forbade smoking. The resumption of smoking occurred at the beginning of July 2021.
Despite having more than 70 sponsors in the Senate and Assembly, bipartisan legislation to repeal the smoking prohibition exemption for casinos was submitted last winter but has not yet received even a committee vote.
Governor Murphy has said that he would support such a move, indicating that Atlantic City would continue to thrive even with a smoking ban in place.
Possibly as a result of the epidemic, C3 Gaming of Las Vegas discovered in June 2022 that “banning smoking no longer generates a major decline in gaming income”
Lamont White, a veteran casino table games dealer, stated in the new CEASE film, “The casinos are stalling and will always find a reason why now is not the best moment.”
The casino sector in Atlantic City opposes a total smoking ban, arguing that it will cut their earnings and likely cost them jobs.
According to NJ Spotlight, Unite Here Local 54, which represents casino and hotel employees in the region, has raised alarm about the effects of a ban as recently as this month. President Bob McDevitt told the news source that New Jersey should wait until Pennsylvania bans smoking in casinos before implementing a similar prohibition.
Local 54 did not reply to a request for comment from New Jersey 101.5 on this report. Neither Senate President Nicholas Scutari nor Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have offices.
“These bills will be easily passed. Leadership is the last remaining obstacle. The legislature has the ability to save lives by pushing passage of a bill supported by an overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans “Borgata dealer Nicole Vitola remarked in the CEASE video.