ATLANTIC CITY, NJ ( Associated Press) — A union representing Atlantic City casino dealers is calling on New Jersey lawmakers to ban smoking at the resort’s casinos.
United Auto Workers earlier this week asked state legislators to hear a bill that would close a loophole in state law that left casinos virtually the only indoor workplace where smoking is allowed. The letter was made public on Thursday.
“Our members include dealers who sit inches away from patrons who blow smoke straight in their faces for eight hours a day, every day,” read the letter on behalf of workers in Caesars, Bali and the Tropicana. “It is unacceptable to know what we know about the dangers of secondhand smoke. No worker in the state of NJ should be forced to breathe cancer-causing chemicals every single day.”
For nearly two years, a group of Atlantic City dealers has been pushing lawmakers to ban smoking in casinos.
But the casino’s trade group, The Casino Association of New Jersey, says doing so would put the casino at a competitive disadvantage in the crowded Northeast casino market, especially when seven out of nine casinos exceed the level of gross operating profit. have not been able to. Before the pandemic hit.
The Casino Association released a report in February predicting that the smoking ban would cost jobs and revenue. But casino activists vehemently opposed those estimates, saying the report did not take into account the possibility that smoking-ban gamblers could return in later years as they adjust to the new smoke-free status. become.
The UAW’s move is also significant in that it reflects a split between the two major casino labor unions in Atlantic City. In a letter sent to state Senate President Nicholas Scutari earlier this month, Local 54 president of the Unite Here casino workers union, Bob McDevitt, urged lawmakers not to pass a smoking ban.
“The smoking ban would mean jobs lost in our union and across the state, and less money lost to tax revenue and senior programs,” said McDevitt, whose union represents workers engaged in other casino-related jobs. does.
The UAW rejected the “intimidation tactic” employed by casinos as no more scary than the health risks of repeated exposure to secondhand smoke.
Bills that would eliminate casino exemptions from the state’s 16-year-old indoor smoking law are pending in the state legislature and Senate. But neither has yet had a committee hearing, a necessary first step before moving a bill to the state legislature.
The bills have broad bipartisan support, and the UAW said, “we are sure they will pass.”
“We will not stand idly by and watch our members choose between their health and their jobs,” the letter said. “We all have the right to breathe clean air at our workplaces.”
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