City Council Voted to Weaken the City’s Smoke-free Ordinance
Advocates ‘Heartened’ to See Senate Committee Schedule Hearing for Smoke-free Casino Legislation, Urge Members to Vote in Support
Ahead of the hearing, ACS CAN joins CEASE in highlighting the importance of and support for casinos going smoke-free
TRENTON, NJ – JANUARY 26, 2024 – With the commitment from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee to host a hearing on Monday, January 29 to consider Senate Bill 1493, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) urges Committee members to support the proposal, which aims to make Atlantic City casinos smoke-free. In doing so, New Jersey can take the final step in an 18-year journey that will both improve workers’ health and likely provide casinos with an economic boost.
When it was enacted in 2006, the Smoke-Free Air Act contained an exemption for casinos, enabling patrons to smoke inside the Atlantic City establishments despite the established risks associated with secondhand smoke. A proposal to close the casino loophole gained traction last legislative session, earning more cosponsors than most other bills. Advocates vow that the legislation in front of lawmakers this session will secure workers the right to breathe clean air.
"This is a critical step towards guaranteeing our right to breathe clean air at work and lawmakers must recognize the urgency of getting this bill passed. We made clear during the last legislative session that any attempts to weaken this bill will not be tolerated, and those who turn their back on workers will be held accountable,” said a representative from the Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE). “For over two years we have been fighting to end indoor smoking in our workplace and our coalition continues to grow stronger every day. Our lives should not be treated like bargaining chips, and we refuse to accept the status quo where we are expected to choose between our health and our paycheck."
The push for casinos to go smoke-free is popular among New Jerseyans; a recent poll revealed that Philadelphia-area adults living in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are much more likely to visit Atlantic City casinos if they are 100% smoke-free. Nearly three in four adults (74%) stated they were more likely to visit an entirely smoke-free casino while only 26% stated that they were less likely.
The benefits of closing the casino loophole extend beyond the health of workers and patrons; secondhand smoke can be bad for business. Among the 69% of Philadelphia-area adults who are casino-goers (they have been to a casino in the past five years), 74% are more likely to visit a smoke-free casino. Among non-casino-goers, even more (76%) are sooner likely to visit a smoke-free casino, indicating that not only will Atlantic City not lose its customer base, but tourism could increase if casinos go smoke-free.
“Cancer advocates across New Jersey are heartened to see the Senate prioritize legislation to make casinos smoke-free. They have waited many years for their voices to be heard and see lawmakers do the right thing. And they aren’t the only ones; regional residents are eager for a change,” said Quinton Law, Government Relations Director for ACS CAN in New Jersey. “The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee has an opportunity to enact the will of their constituents, protect the health of casino workers and patrons and give Atlantic City the economic advantage it deserves.”
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. By engaging advocates across the country to make their voices heard, ACS CAN influences legislative and regulatory solutions that will end cancer as we know it.