Legislators Urged to Reject "Philip Morris" Smoking Rooms
Philip Morris Has Made Significant Financial Contributions to New Jersey Legislators in Recent Years
“Ventilated Smoking Rooms and Designated Smoking Areas Are Not Effective,” Says CDC
Atlantic City, NJ – In the midst of a lame duck period, a new ad from Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights targeting key New Jersey legislators is urging them to reject a proposal to create Philip Morris smoking rooms at Atlantic City casinos. While casinos have refused to publicly discuss their counter proposals to legislation to finally close the casino smoking loophole – even when pressed by legislators at a committee hearing last Thursday – legislators have made clear that casinos want to establish these indoor rooms.
“Philip Morris smoking rooms are dangerous and have been phased out of society over the last decade. Why would New Jersey go backwards?” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Let’s be clear: employees will absolutely have to work in these Philip Morris smoking rooms. It’s an illusion of a solution, and it puts the most vulnerable employees at great risk. New Jersey legislators should reject Philip Morris smoking rooms and pass the legislation in its current form so that no one’s health is compromised.”
The ads will begin running later today on Facebook and Instagram and will target New Jersey Senators and Assemblymembers and their constituents. Indoor smoking rooms were first proposed and paid for by Philip Morris, the Big Tobacco company, at airports in the 1990s. Since then, the US Surgeon General has made clear these rooms do not solve the problem of people being exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke.
Air pollution levels from secondhand smoke directly outside of smoking rooms is nearly 4 times higher than in non-smoking areas, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. “Ventilated smoking rooms and designated smoking areas are not effective,” says the CDC. “Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas is the only effective way to fully eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke…People who spend time in, pass by, clean, or work near these rooms are at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke.”
Philip Morris has a history of making campaign contributions to New Jersey legislators. For example, in July 2021, Politico reported that Philip Morris made campaign contributions to New Jersey state legislators in the second quarter of 2021 that "are among the largest it has made in the last decade."
“A subsidiary of one of the largest cigarette makers in the world pumped nearly $50,000 into New Jersey elections during the second quarter of 2021, including more than $36,000 to campaign committees backing Democrats who had spearheaded efforts to curtail tobacco use in the previous legislative session. Philip Morris USA, which is owned by Altria, gave $18,000 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and $18,500 to the Senate Democratic Majority Committee in June. Separately, the company contributed $11,000 each to the Assembly Republican Victory and Senate Republican Majority committees, according to filings with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.”
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.”
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS' RIGHTS
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.