As wildfires rage on, spreading smoke and exacerbating the already poor air quality across the East Coast, Casino Workers Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) in New Jersey has raised concerns about the parallel between the outdoor environment and their daily workplace conditions.
Legislative Support Grows to Protect Casino Workers from Secondhand Smoke Dangers
Casino employees are forced to endure the dangers of secondhand smoke while working just a few feet away from smokers. Typically, they look forward to breaks as an opportunity to breathe fresh air outside. Unfortunately, due to the current air quality, stepping outside provides little respite from the unhealthy conditions they face indoors.
The impact of allowing indoor smoking in casinos is comparable to the effects of wildfires hundreds of miles away on the ability of individuals to breathe clean air on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It has been nearly two years since smoking was reintroduced inside Atlantic City casinos, and CEASE continues to appeal to elected officials for legislation that will close the casino smoking loophole and prioritize the health of workers and non-smoking guests.
The New Jersey legislature has shown significant support for addressing this issue. S264 and A2151, legislation aimed at closing the casino smoking loophole and safeguarding the well-being of casino workers, have garnered an impressive 83 cosponsors in total. Of these, 26 cosponsors are from the Senate, while 57 are from the Assembly.
Legislative Committees Rally Behind Casino Workers’ Fight for Smoke-Free Environments
CEASE members testified before lawmakers in March during a hearing held by the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Tourism, Gaming, and Arts Committee. They shared their firsthand experiences of working in a smoke-filled environment for extended periods and the severe health consequences they have endured.
Furthermore, in February, casino workers and their supporters, including the United Auto Workers and representatives from various public health organizations, testified before the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. Both the Senate and Assembly committees have demonstrated majority support for the proposed legislation.
Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has consistently expressed his intention to sign the legislation once it reaches his desk. He believes that prioritizing the health of individuals is the right course of action and that it will not hinder Atlantic City’s thriving tourism industry, emphasizing the city’s unique assets, including its oceanfront location.CEASE, an organization representing thousands of casino dealers and frontline gaming workers, strives to eliminate smoking from their workplaces permanently. The group has chapters actively working towards closing the casino smoking loophole in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Kansas, Virginia, and their home state of New Jersey.