December 14, 2021
Assemblyman Moriarty Becomes 4th Prime Sponsor of A4541
Atlantic City, NJ – A key South Jersey legislator has thrown his support behind legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole today as Assemblyman and Deputy Speaker Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Township) added his name as a prime sponsor to A4541. This comes as Atlantic City casino workers and advocates have ramped up efforts to convince legislators to take action during the lame duck session.
“It is unconscionable that any workers in New Jersey would knowingly be subjected to carcinogens in the workplace,” said Assemblyman Moriarty. “It is time for New Jersey to treat casino employees as equal to other service industry workers and prohibit smoking in casinos. I am proud to join A4541 as a fourth prime sponsor.”
“We are grateful for Assemblyman Moriarty taking the time to hear our urgent plea to end the smoking at our workplaces that is making us sick and threatening our lives – and then taking action to do something about it,” said Nicole Vitola, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), which has organized thousands of AC casino workers since smoking returned in July 2021. “More and more South Jersey legislators are supporting our fight because in the year 2021, it’s just common sense to stop forcing us to breathe secondhand smoke for eight hours a day at our workplaces. We refuse to continue choosing between our health and a paycheck.”
A4541 is sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shanique Speight and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson. S1878 is sponsored by Senators Joseph Vitale and Shirley Turner and co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan, Loretta Weinberg, Teresa Ruiz and Vince Polistina, who signed on last month shortly after assuming office. Both bills “[eliminate the] smoking ban exemption for casinos and simulcasting facilities.”
Last week, Atlantic City casino workers went to Trenton to call on legislators not to give tax breaks to casinos without also protecting their health by eliminating the casino smoking loophole that currently permits indoor smoking at their workplaces.
“Scare tactics about revenue and job loss are just that – efforts to maintain the status quo, even as it threatens the health of thousands of New Jersey workers,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “By signing on as a prime sponsor of legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole, Assemblyman Moriarty is listening to the voices of thousands of workers instead of the Big Tobacco and gaming lobbyists.”
A new video published this month, “A Loophole in NJ Law Is Killing Casino Workers,” highlights the urgency of the casino workers’ fight to close the casino loophole.
More and more casinos are going smokefree indoors to protect the health of workers and guests. In a blow to industry arguments about regional competition concerns, casinos in Philadelphia and the surrounding area are operating smokefree and generating record revenue — already surpassing figures reported in 2019. This year, Parx Casino – the state’s top grossing casino in 2019 – and Mount Airy extended their own smokefree indoor policies originally implemented due to pandemic restrictions.
According to Parx’s chief marketing officer: “Since smoking was allowed to return to (Pennsylvania casinos) in June, we have continued to be an indoor non-smoking facility. We’ve done it for the health and comfort of both our guests and team members. We have received significant positive feedback from both constituencies. And (we) have continued our strong performance and gains of market share in the region.”
Even the country’s top casino lobbyist says going smokefree does not hurt business. American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller said recently that casinos that have gone smokefree have done so “without detrimental effect” and that the decision “hasn’t led to a decrease in business.” The question came during an interview Miller conducted while at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City last month, where more than one hundred casino employees protested indoor smoking and pushed Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney to close the casino loophole that forces them to choose between their health and a paycheck.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 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://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.