2 New Legislators in New Jersey Co-Sponsor Bill to Close Casino Smoking Loophole

Assemblywoman Collazos-Gill and Assemblyman Rodriguez Co-Sponsor A2143

“No one in New Jersey should have to choose between their health and a paycheck.”

Trenton, NJ— Two new legislators in Trenton – Assemblywoman Alixon Collazos-Gill and Assemblyman Gabriel Rodriguez – are co-sponsoring legislation to close the casino smoking loophole, A2143, as momentum builds to finally end indoor smoking at Atlantic City casinos 18 years after a compromise kept casino workers subjected to dangerous secondhand smoke. 

At the end of January, the Senate Health Committee passed identical legislation, S1493,  and an alternative bill that maintains indoor smoking in casinos has lost an original prime sponsor.  

“I’m co-sponsoring A2143 because casino workers have been waiting 18 years for the same protections from dangerous secondhand smoke that our state affords virtually every other employee,” Assemblywoman Alixon Collazos-Gill said. “They have been living with a compromise that is unacceptable. We have the chance to protect their health while encouraging new guests to visit a smokefree Atlantic City that welcomes the vast majority of the public who do not smoke. I look forward to voting for this bill soon.”

"As a new member of the Assembly, I'm proud to co-sponsor A-2143 to play my part in protecting the health and lives of casino workers throughout the state,” Assemblyman Gabriel Rodriguez said. “We must pass this bill as soon as possible, as no one in NJ should ever have to choose between their health and their paycheck. "

Despite sky-will-fall scare tactics from the casino industry about the potential economic impact, a recent poll found that 74% of New Jerseyans and Philadelphians would be more likely to visit Atlantic City casinos if they were to operate 100% smokefree indoors. Further, a report published by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that casinos without indoor smoking outperform  their smoking counterparts. “Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly indicates that banning smoking no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue,” wrote C3 Gaming. “In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.”

"For too long, casino workers like us have been exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke while performing our duties," said Pete Naccarelli, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) co-founder and longtime Atlantic City casino table games dealer. "We applaud Assemblywoman Collazos-Gill and Assemblyman Rodriguez for their commitment to our well-being and look forward to finally not having to choose between our health and a paycheck.” 

"Every day that passes without this ban in place is another day where the health and safety of casino workers and visitors are at risk,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “As support continues to grow amongst state leaders, we call on the New Jersey legislature to prioritize this critical issue and swiftly move to enact these bills into law." 

Legislation to close the casino smoking loophole has broad support from a diverse coalition of organizations including the National Council on Problem Gambling, UFCW Local 152, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), the only labor union representing Atlantic City casino dealers, strongly supports the legislation and has repeatedly called on New Jersey lawmakers to protect the health of their members. UAW represents thousands of workers in Atlantic City casinos, including dealers at Caesars, Bally’s, and Tropicana, who are the most affected workers in a casino, as their job requires them to spend their entire shift an arm’s length from smokers.

UAW has also rejected the Philip Morris Smoking Rooms proposed by some in the industry. 

“The UAW will not compromise on the health of any worker. We reject any amendment in the legislation that would allow workers to ‘volunteer’ to work in smoking rooms. No one should have to risk their health for a paycheck,” wrote UAW President Shawn Fain in a recent letter to lawmakers.

Ventilation systems are not the answer, according to the engineers who design such systems and collectively make up the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). “[Ventilation systems] are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort, but cannot eliminate exposure,” reads their report. “There is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air-cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of [environmental tobacco smoke] to an acceptable level.”

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found adult cigarette smoking rates in the U.S. dropped to an all-time low, with only 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers. Another report from the CDC Office on Smoking and Health examined air quality in Las Vegas casinos. The report, entitled “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs,” evaluated particulate matter – an indicator for secondhand smoke – in casinos that are smoke-free indoors, and compared the results to casinos that allow smoking. They affirmed that prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke.

The newest co-sponsors bring the total number of co-sponsors of the bill to 58 legislators. A2143 is now co-sponsored by 40 assembly members and its counterpart in the Senate, S1493, has 18 co-sponsors.


Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for over 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://nonsmokersrights.org and https://smokefreecasinos.org.