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CEASE Calls on Lou Greenwald to Return $30K+ In Campaign Cash from Philip Morris & Other Tobacco Interests


Mar 20, 2023

Star-Ledger Reported that Greenwald Took Philip Morris Contributions While at the Same Time Pushing to Create Philip Morris Smoking Rooms in AC Casinos

Atlantic City, NJ – Following reporting in a front-page story for the Star-Ledger yesterday that New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from tobacco giant Philip Morris and other tobacco interests, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) is calling on Greenwald to return the money and stop doing their bidding in Trenton. Greenwald has gotten more than $30,000 in contributions from Philip Morris, the Cigar Association of America and others.

“For months, Lou Greenwald has been the leading proponent of creating Philip Morris smoking rooms and ensuring workers like us must continue to put our lives at risk every day. Now we know at least one reason why – he’s been taking their campaign contributions,” said Pete Naccarelli, CEASE co-founder and an Atlantic City table games dealer. “The majority leader should stop putting the interests of casinos and Big Tobacco over workers and ordinary people and give back this money right away. He may talk a good game about caring about us workers, but that talk is cheap when he’s parroting industry talking points and undermining life-saving legislation after taking their money. It’s time to put our lives first.”

From the Star-Ledger:

“State Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, sees it differently. He said casinos have “come a long way” with possible changes and noted a complete ban could be “devastating to those workers and our economy…Supporters note Greenwald, the South Jersey Democrat working on amendments, has the heft of being the second-highest ranking lawmaker in the Assembly. They also point out he has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions over 25 years from groups and lobbyists with connections to the casino and tobacco industries. State law bars casino operators from donating to politicians’ campaigns. Lobbyists and attorneys who do work with casinos, however, can contribute on their own, though it can be difficult to know if they are giving because of their ties to the industry…He acknowledged he has received donations from tobacco company Philip Morris and the Cigar Association of America.”


Philip Morris, the Big Tobacco company first proposed and paid for indoor smoking rooms 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."

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.”

In the wake of some legislators mysteriously turning their back on casino employees after co-sponsoring legislation to protect their lives, CEASE on Friday announced it plans to form a new political action committee to bring accountability to Trenton on this issue. The announcement follows Senator Vince Polistina playing political games with thousands of his constituents’ lives. For casino workers and others wondering why a few key legislators mysteriously and suddenly dropped off as co-sponsors of S264, the state senate version of legislation to close the casino smoking loophole, Polistina in a radio interview with WOND on Thursday offered some insights:

"Basically the Camden Democratic organization had initially supported or at least some of the members had initially supported and they withdrew their support and George Gilmore and some of the other Ocean County Republicans withdrew their support,” said Polistina. “There are some people who have interests with casinos that are unelected that you know, perhaps had some ability to sway some legislators’ minds. So I believe some of that was going on...there are other unelected people who got involved and started to change people's minds.”

Last week, United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain urged lawmakers to pass legislation to end indoor smoking in Atlantic City casinos without amendments that would compromise the health of any workers. UAW represents casino workers most affected by secondhand smoke exposure. “Opponents of this bill are only concerned about profits, not our members who keep their casinos running,” wrote Fain. “Any excuse to keep this smoking loophole or propose amendments to create designated ‘smoking rooms’ where workers would have a “choice” to work in is preposterous. The UAW will not compromise on the health of any worker. We reject any amendment in the legislation that would allow workers to ‘volunteer’ to work in smoking rooms. No one should have to risk their health for a paycheck.”


Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) is a group of thousands of casino dealers and other frontline gaming workers that is fighting to permanently remove smoking from our workplaces. CEASE has chapters working to close the casino smoking loophole in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Kansas and Virginia.

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