April 18, 2023
“Senate President Scutari and Speaker Coughlin: Let’s Vote On It” Billboard Also Highlights Widespread Support for Legislation from South Jersey Legislators
Atlantic City, NJ– Advocates fighting to close the casino smoking loophole and protect workers’ health have purchased a billboard that every visitor heading into Atlantic City won’t be able to miss over the next several weeks. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) purchased the billboard on the Atlantic City expressway to highlight the overwhelming support for S264 and A2151 from 20 South Jersey legislators and to send a message to Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Speaker Craig Coughlin: “Let’s vote on it.”
“Thousands of Atlantic City casino workers deserve a vote now to protect their health and they are waiting for Senate President Scutari and Speaker Coughlin to hold that vote as soon as possible,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of ANR. “Not only are a bipartisan majority of New Jersey lawmakers cosponsoring these bills, we know that the legislation would pass easily if a vote were held today. Hundreds of casino workers and supporters packed committee rooms over the last two months fighting for their right to a smokefree workplace. It’s long overdue to get this done; casinos have chosen to be absent during these hearings and no one should wait another day for them to contribute to a solution to this urgent issue.”
The billboard’s placement comes following committee hearings in Trenton in February and March that saw hundreds of casino employees pack the hearing rooms in a show of support for the overdue legislation. The billboard also coincides with the East Coast Gaming Congress taking place in Atlantic City this week that will attract gaming executives from across the country.
An overwhelming 70 percent of the New Jersey legislature has cosponsored S264 and A2151, legislation to close the casino smoking loophole and protect the health of casino workers. The bills have earned 83 cosponsors in total, 26 in the Senate and 57 in the Assembly.
During a hearing last month held by the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, members of CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects) testified before lawmakers to share their experience working in smoke for hours at a time and dealing with the extreme health consequences.
In February, casino workers and other supporters including the United Auto Workers, and representatives from several public health organizations testified before the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee.
Majorities of each of the Senate and Assembly committees cosponsor the bill.
The legislation also has broad support from a range 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.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has repeatedly said he will sign the legislation when it reaches his desk, saying “At the end of the day, we will still get good business. Atlantic City is an American gem. We’ve got the ocean and the other competitors don’t. And this is the right thing for our respective health.”
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
ANR Foundation’s sister organization, Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 47 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 has successfully protected 66.8% 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.