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In New Jersey, cancer-stricken casino dealers push for Atlantic City smoking ban

Tammy Brady began her career as an Atlantic City casino dealer at the age of 18. Now 55, she has stage 2 breast cancer.

“While I’m not sure we will ever know the exact cause of my illness, I can’t help but wonder if it would have happened if the casinos hadn’t forced me to work in second-hand smoke,” said Brady, who works at the Borgata casino.
Holly Diebler, a craps dealer at Tropicana, is undergoing chemotherapy for throat cancer.


“I don’t even know how long I’m going to live,” she said. “I love my job; I don’t want to leave it. But all my oncologists have told me this is a life-and-death choice.”

They were among numerous casino employees who testified Thursday before two state Assembly committees in favor of a bill that would prohibit smoking in Atlantic City’s nine casinos.
No vote was taken on the bill, as in an identical hearing on Feb. 13. Gov. Phil Murphy has promised to sign the bill if it passes the Legislature, but thus far, leaders of the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate have not committed to allowing the bill to move forward and be voted upon.

The bill would close a loophole in the state’s 2006 indoor smoking law. That measure was written specifically to exempt casinos from bans on smoking indoors. Currently, smoking is permitted on 25% of a casino floor in Atlantic City.
“I don’t want to take away your right to kill yourself by smoking,” said Assemblyman Don Guardian, a former mayor of Atlantic City. “I do want to take away your right to kill someone else by smoking in a casino.”

The casino industry opposes a smoking ban, saying it would lose customers and revenue if smoking were banned while still being allowed in casinos in nearby states.

But Andrew Klebenow of Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming, said many casinos that have ended smoking are thriving financially, including casinos near Washington, D.C., and Boston, and in Maryland.
Business groups opposed a ban, and Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite Here casino workers union, predicted that prohibiting smoking would cost the industry 10% of its revenue and cause the closure of at least one casino.

Numerous cancer patients working in Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos are helping fortify a push for the state Legislature to pass a smoking ban in the state's gambling capital.Tammy Brady began her car[…]

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