Casino workers urge Governor Murphy to support bills banning smoking in casinos

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A group of casino workers are calling on Governor Phil Murphy to support bills banning smoking inside Atlantic City casinos.

“You wouldn’t understand the feeling you get when you’re playing a game and someone walks up and you see them with a cigarette in their hand and you’re just begging, ‘Please, don’t sit at my game,'” Pete says. Naccarelli, co-founder of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE).

Naccarelli is also a games merchant. He and his supporters say enough is enough when it comes to smoking in the workplace. They say 2022 must be the year that smoking will be banned in casinos.

A bill to ban the practice was introduced in the state Senate earlier this month.

“We need movement, so we’re trying to reach out one by one to every senator, every legislator, to co-sponsor and understand and somehow help move forward,” said the CEASE co-founder. , Nicole Vitola.

Smoking was banned in casinos for about 12 months during the pandemic. It was authorized again on July 4, 2021.

“It was great. I never called a day and never had a mental health issue on the game because I knew I was protected,” Vitola said.

The governor has repeatedly said that if a smoking ban bill reaches his desk, he will sign it. But workers say this is not enough.

“Many of us voted for him, and we knew that was his position on this and we really urge him to do it and do it once and for all so that we can enjoy an environment of smoke-free work,” says casino croupier Beverly Perna-Quinn.

Joe Lupo, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said in a statement, “Atlantic City casinos cater to a diverse and dynamic range of customers, including smokers and non-smokers. Under current law, smoking is restricted to only 25% of the casino floor area and is not available anywhere else on the resort/property, which equates to approximately 10% of all facilities. A complete and permanent ban on smoking would have long-term financial implications for the industry and the region, putting Atlantic City casinos at a competitive disadvantage to Pennsylvania casinos where smoking is permitted. A smoking ban would have a significant negative effect on the City of Atlantic City, resulting in job losses, a drop in total customers and customer frequency, which would result in lower tax revenue that benefits the city. state and local economy, as well as New Jersey seniors and people with disabilities. A decline in our customer base would also cause economic hardship for many of the 20,000 employees who depend on the tips and volume of customers our industry provides. As Atlantic County’s largest employer, the casino industry is committed to growing and strengthening Atlantic City’s economy and ensuring the safety of our employees and customers. Atlantic City continues to experience the difficult impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the land-based casino industry saw a 5% drop in revenue in 2021 compared to 2019, underscoring the fact that land-based casinos have not returned to pre-COVID levels. Any policy changes that will result in decreased visitation, loss of jobs and further economic harm to our region should be the last thing we consider as the industry works diligently to rebuild and recover from the pandemic. COVID-19.

But workers say they are pleading with lawmakers to put their health first.

“We’re just trying to pay the bills. We’re just trying to get our kids to school and college, and we have to deal with that because you don’t want to risk your job,” says Perna. -Quinn.

The bill is now headed to a state Senate health committee.

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