Advocates Urge Senate President Scutari to Bring Smoke-free Bill to Vote by Full Senate

As several Senate Health Committee members retract support for the smoke-free casino proposal, public health & labor groups look to Sen. Pres. Scutari to give bill fair consideration

December 13, 2023

TRENTON, NJ – DECEMBER 13, 2023 – Earlier today, Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joe Vitale pulled the smoke-free proposal off the agenda for tomorrow’s committee hearing, citing a lack of support from committee members. Given the stagnation around the smoke-free casinos proposal in committee—a result of several members breaking their promise to their constituents—advocates are turning to Senate President Scutari to ensure that the proposal receives its due consideration by the full Senate.

The proposed legislation S264 aims to close the loophole for casinos in New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act. Over the course of the year, the proposal received wide support from New Jersey residents and lawmakers, earning more cosponsors than most other bills this legislative session in Trenton.

In the last several weeks, several lawmakers in the Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee have taken their name off the bill—despite its popularity among their constituents and their promise to support New Jerseyans’ right to breathe clean air. Scutari’s authority as Senate President enables him to bypass a committee vote and bring the bill up for a vote by the entire Senate.

The following is a statement from ACS CAN New Jersey Government Relations Director Quinton Law:

“New Jersey residents are relying on Senate President Scutari to allow his Senate peers to represent the will of their constituents and lend their support to S-264. Alongside my fellow public health advocates, I am optimistic that his leadership will ensure this bill receives the fair vote it merits. By facilitating a vote on the Senate floor for S-264, not only will he be resolving this issue, but he'll also be safeguarding the lives and economic stability of workers in Atlantic City.

“Each year in the US, secondhand smoke causes almost 42,000 deaths, including up to 7,300 lung cancer deaths among non-smoking adults. This is a massive risk factor to which the current law consigns casino workers and patrons to be persistently exposed. The only viable solution to protect individuals from the danger of secondhand smoke is by unequivocally prohibiting smoking in indoor public spaces. Select lawmakers blocked New Jerseyans’ chance to be adequately protected, and Senate President Scutari has the chance to rectify that.

“The facts around the health and economic benefits of comprehensive smoke-free policies are definitive. People will continue to visit casinos if they are smoke-free—and likely in great frequency. With this legislation, they can do so and not jeopardize their health or that of casino employees.

“The full Senate deserves the opportunity to weigh in on this issue, and I urge Senate President Scutari to let this 17-year-old debate have its day.”



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.

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