Bipartisan Bill Would Eliminate Smoking in New Jersey Casinos

Support continues to grow for eliminating the casino smoking loophole as New Jersey Senator Michael Testa (R-Vineland) announced last week that he is co-sponsoring S264, a bipartisan bill that now has seven co-sponsors. Testa’s South Jersey district includes many casino workers who would benefit from the legislation.

“Casino workers should have the same right to work in a safe and healthy environment as any other worker in our state,” said Testa.“That’s why I’m co-sponsoring S264 to eliminate the casino smoking loophole. We can both protect the health of casino workers and their guests while safeguarding our state’s thriving gaming industry.”

On January 12, the first full day of New Jersey’s current legislative session, six senators re-introduced S264 (previously S1878), which “eliminates [the] smoking ban exemption for casinos and simulcasting facilities,” protecting casino workers from exposure to dangerous secondhand smoke.

The primary sponsors of the bill are Senators Shirley Turner (D) and Joseph Vitale (D), and, in addition to Testa, it is co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan (D); Teresa Ruiz (D), who is also the majority leader; Vince Polistina (R); and Vin Gopal (D).

“We thank Senator Testa for co-sponsoring this bipartisan legislation after meeting with us and hearing our concerns about our health,” 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. “We have support from Republicans and Democrats, as well as legislators across New Jersey, because they recognize that it’s wrong to treat us differently than every other worker in our state. Senator Testa understands the urgency of our fight and we are grateful that he is joining us to get this bill across the finish line.”

“We thank Senator Testa for understanding that no worker should have to choose between their health and a paycheck,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “We are building a durable coalition that includes the voices of thousands of casino workers and will be heard over the appeals of Big Tobacco and gaming lobbyists.”

A new video, “A Loophole in NJ Law Is Killing Casino Workers,” highlights the urgency of the casino workers’ fight to close the casino loophole.

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