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New Jersey: Smoke-Free Air Act Passed

Bill 1926 at the New Jersey State Assembly was voted on today and was passed by a vote of 64-12 with two abstentions. I listened to the Assembly caucus via the New Jersey Legistlature website (Link), and sat for nigh an hour while assemblyman after assemblyman spoke on this historic piece of legistlature.

The opponents of the bill fell back on the following points:

  1. The bill does not apply to casinos
  2. The bill violates Americans' right to choose
The first point is a valid one; in this case, the bill has clearly bowed to big business. That said, one of the points that the supporters made was that change is incremental, and anyone involved in legiatlature should know this very well.

The second point ostensibly says that if you don't want to be in a smoke-filled establishment, don't go. Patrons have this choice, generally speaking. Employees do not, so this bill was for them as much as anyone.

The bill that passed is not a perfect one, but it is 95% perfect. It paves the way for smoke-free dining and drinking virtually everywhere in the state of New Jersey, and I for one am elated.

New York passed a similar bill a few years ago, and verying forms of the bill have been floating around the New Jersey legislature for a dozen years. The largest beneficiaries will be the employees of non-smoke-free fooddrinkeries who are subjected to second-hand smoke for eight hours a day, forty hours a week. So for them, and for myself, thank you to everyone who was involved in getting this bill passed.

The bill is expected to be signed into law by acting Governor Richard Codey before he leaves office on January 17th.