Smokefree Casino Advocates Respond to Reports That Gov. Murphy Plans to Drop Mask Mandate Next Week

Gov. Murphy Urged to Prioritize Public Health Over Narrow Industry Interests By Keeping Casinos Smokefree

May 21, 2021


Atlantic City, NJ — In light of news reports that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will lift the mask mandate next week and potentially allow smoking at Atlantic City casinos once again, Americans for Nonsmokers Rights President and CEO Cynthia Hallett released the following statement:

“Governor Murphy can make the right decision and keep Atlantic City casinos smokefree, or he can give in to narrow gaming industry interests and ignore the lessons of the pandemic. But he can’t do both. The good news is that going smokefree is popular among the public, so this should be an easy decision.

“We urge the Governor to prioritize the health of casino guests and employees, not the corporate interests with the biggest voices in Trenton. Their sky-is-falling claims are stale and not supported by facts. Remaining smokefree is a no-brainer as we emerge from the pandemic; Gov. Murphy himself has acknowledged the strong argument in favor of ensuring a smokefree workplace and entertainment environment.

“We urge him to continue to ensure Atlantic City casinos are smokefree, which the CDC has called a ‘silver lining’ of the pandemic. His decision will speak volumes about his priorities for New Jersey.”

WATCH: Governor Murphy on Smokefree Casino Policy, 5/3/2021
“I’ve got no opinion yet on the–we haven’t considered the anti-smoking piece. I’ve seen the advocates make, I think, a very compelling case. I was in and around casinos a couple times this weekend and by the way, it looked like everyone was doing the right thing. It’s really impressive when you see–talk about partitions at every single gaming table, they exist. People wearing face coverings, pretty much to the person. Really impressive. But no news on that, Michael, yet.” 

Smokefree casino advocates sent a letter to Gov. Murphy earlier this month outlining the case for remaining smokefree.

More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, 23 states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and nearly 1,100 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors. Opinion research routinely, and increasingly, shows the vast majority of guests prefer smokefree indoor casinos. That’s not surprising considering that among young adults, 90 percent are nonsmokers. 

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 and