Smokefree Casino Advocates Respond to New Jersey Election Results, Urge Action in Lame Duck

Gov. Murphy Must Call on Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin to Prioritize Smokefree Casino Legislation in the Lame Duck That Begins on Monday 

November 3, 2021



Atlantic City, NJ -- Following election results in New Jersey, Cynthia Hallett, President and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, issued the following statement:

“With Governor Murphy and Senator-elect Polistina winning their races, two of the most outspoken proponents of closing the casino loophole that allows indoor smoking at Atlantic City casinos will be positioned to act. They must not wait a moment -- the lame duck session that begins on Monday is the time to advance S1878/A4541. The Governor must make clear publicly that he wants the legislature to send a bill to his desk. Casino workers cannot wait any longer and continue to have to choose between a paycheck and their health. Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin have a responsibility to ensure Atlantic City casino workers are not treated differently than every other worker in New Jersey, and Senator-elect Polistina must now make good on his campaign trail promise. The employees bearing the brunt of this outdated policy are sick and tired of risking their health and will not stop pushing until the casino loophole is finally closed.”

While both state senate candidates for District 2 supported closing the casino loophole, Senator-elect Polistina was most consistent and showed up to support casino workers at rallies and protests over the last few months. “The exemption needs to end. I know the governor supports it, so hopefully we can get back to Trenton after this election and we can get it done, because those [employees] deserve clean air and a healthy, safe work environment,” said then-candidate Polistina on October 17.

Governor Murphy has repeatedly said he would sign legislation to make Atlantic City casinos permanently smokefree, a move that would finally close the casino loophole and stop forcing gaming workers to choose between their health and a paycheck. During an interview with News 12 on September 21, Governor Murphy responded to a viewer-submitted question from an Atlantic City casino worker: “If legislation comes my way -- I need now a law to sign in order to actually make that permanent. So if legislation comes to my desk that would ban smoking in casinos, you should assume that I will sign it." 

More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas strip. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, nearly half of all states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and nearly 1,100 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in March that smokefreee casino policies implemented over the last year have been a “silver lining” of the pandemic.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 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 and