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Voice of the People, June 7, 2021

Voice of the People, June 7, 2021

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Make casino smoking ban in A.C. permanent

Regarding the recent Press editorial, “If NJ bans casino smoking, it won’t be due to the science”:

We at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, where I am volunteer legislative ambassador in New Jersey, were disappointed to read the editorial, which seems aimed at undermining the consensus on the health consequences of secondhand smoke.

There simply is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke has more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 70 that can cause cancer. The U.S Surgeon General has concluded that even separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke. And in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called smoke-free casino policies a “silver lining” of the pandemic.

For nearly a year, casino workers and patrons have been breathing fresh air while working in and gaming at New Jersey’s many casinos. Meanwhile, New Jersey casinos are thriving even with the continued prohibition of smoking. According to the American Gaming Association, casino first quarter revenue in New Jersey is up 30% over the same time in 2019 and 32% over 2020. The facts are undeniable. Prohibiting smoking in casinos is both good for public health and good for business.

Twenty-one states, along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have laws in effect that require all state-regulated gambling to be 100% smoke-free indoors, and nearly 1,100 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors.

As the COVID-19 crisis begins to slow and restrictions on the public and on businesses are removed, New Jersey should not go backward on public health. It is time for the Legislature to permanently make all casinos smoke-free by passing S1878/A4541.

Mrs. Terry Bylone

Sewell, Gloucester County

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