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Bally's Casino in Atlantic City in 2011. (Photo: Shinya Suzuki.)

Casino workers call for Harris to support anti-smoking legislation

Vice president is in Atlantic City today for roundtable on abortion

By George Christopher, July 18 2022 11:41 am

With Vice President Kamala Harris visiting Atlantic City today for a roundtable on reproductive health care, the Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) is urging Harris to support legislation protecting casino workers from second-hand smoke effects.

“No worker should have to decide between a paycheck and their health – or their unborn child’s health,” said CEASE leader Nicole Vitola in a statement. “It’s time to finally end indoor smoking. Our lives depend on it.”

Vitola pointed out that 45 percent of casino workers are people of color, meaning that group is disproportionately harmed by second-hand smoke, and also drew specific attention to the plight of pregnant workers.

“Vice President Harris should know that as she meets with legislators about reproductive rights and health in Atlantic City today, pregnant casino workers are still forced to breathe secondhand smoke that puts their health and the health of their unborn baby at risk,” she said.

The issue of smoking at casinos is one that has dogged state politicians for decades. A 2006 law bans indoor smoking in restaurants and other indoor public spaces, but casinos were exempted; legislation closing that loophole has faced resistance from many in the casino industry and has yet to come for a vote in the state legislature.

Joining Harris at today’s abortion-focused roundtable are Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-South Orange), and representatives from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Lieutenant Gov. Sheila Oliver, currently the acting governor with Gov. Phil Murphy vacationing in Italy, will no longer be in attendance as originally planned.

The vice president will also make remarks focusing on voting and policing matters today at the NAACP National Convention, which began last Thursday in Atlantic City.

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