“This Legislation Is Going To Improve Workplace Conditions For Workers And Even Save Lives”
January 29, 2024 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trenton, NJ—In response to news that the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee voted to pass legislation to close the casino smoking loophole, Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR), issued the following statement:
“After more than 17 years since New Jersey enacted the state’s first clean air act, we’re thrilled that lawmakers today voted to end indoor smoking in Atlantic City casinos and protect the lives of thousands of casino workers. We’re especially encouraged that the bill was passed without amendments that would weaken it and continue to put workers’ health in jeopardy.
“Today’s vote is a major step forward but we know that the casino and tobacco industries will stop at nothing to derail and delay our progress. We strongly urge lawmakers to hold strong and do the right thing for frontline workers who have been forced to deal with secondhand smoke in their workplace and the devastating health consequences that result. By closing the casino smoking loophole, Atlantic City casinos will join the growing number of casinos and states that are going 100% smokefree indoors and attracting a new generation of guests who prefer a smokefree experience. Most importantly, this legislation is going to improve workplace conditions for workers and even save lives.”
Legislation to close the casino smoking loophole has broad support from a diverse coalition of organizations including the National Council on Problem Gambling, UFCW Local 152, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), the only labor union representing Atlantic City casino dealers strongly supports the legislation and has repeatedly called on New Jersey lawmakers to protect the health of their members. UAW represents thousands of workers in Atlantic City casinos, including dealers at Caesars, Bally’s, and Tropicana, who are the most affected workers in a casino, as their job requires them to spend their entire shift an arm’s length from smokers.
UAW has also rejected the Philip Morris Smoking Rooms proposed by some in the industry. “The UAW will not compromise on the health of any worker. We reject any amendment in the legislation that would allow workers to ‘volunteer’ to work in smoking rooms. No one should have to risk their health for a paycheck,” wrote UAW President Shawn Fain in a recent letter to lawmakers.
A recent poll found that 74% of New Jerseyans and Philadelphians would be more likely to visit Atlantic City casinos if they were to operate 100% smokefree indoors, completely contradicting claims by casinos.
More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree indoors, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. At least 160 sovereign tribal gaming venues implemented 100% smoke-free policies during COVID-19, 20 states require commercial casinos to be smoke-free indoors, and more than 1,000 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found adult cigarette smoking rates in the U.S. dropped to an all-time low, with only 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers. Another report from the CDC Office on Smoking and Health examined air quality in Las Vegas casinos. The report, entitled “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs,” evaluated particulate matter – an indicator for secondhand smoke – in casinos that are smoke-free indoors, and compared the results to casinos that allow smoking. They affirmed that prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke.
Ventilation systems are not the answer, according to the engineers who design such systems and collectively make up the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). “[Ventilation systems] are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort, but cannot eliminate exposure,” reads their report. “There is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air-cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of [environmental tobacco smoke] to an acceptable level.”
A report published by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that casinos without indoor smoking outperform their smoking counterparts. “Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly indicates that banning smoking no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue,” wrote C3 Gaming. “In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
ANR Foundation sister organization, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for over 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://nonsmokersrights.org and https://smokefreecasinos.org.