As we begin another year working mostly from home and providing our technical and tactical advice to members, colleagues and policy makers, I am reminded that together, anything is possible. Together we have had to shift to a new format for our daily operations, predominantly digital and across multiple virtual platforms, but I have found it is still possible and important to stay connected. The opposition is staying connected and presenting a united front against smokefree and other tobacco-related policies, so it is critical that our movement remains committed and connected.
We ended 2021 with wins in Navajo Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, with both Tribes adopting smokefree laws that include casinos. As we start the 2022 legislative session, we have a bill pending in New Jersey that would close the single remaining workplace gap in the statewide smokefree law by including casinos, and soon a preemption repeal bill will be filed in Tennessee that would allow municipalities to adopt local laws that would close the loophole for age-restricted (21 and over) venues such as music clubs and bars.
Many states have already introduced or are threatening to introduce preemption bills that would hamstring localities from passing strong public health policies, including smokefree indoor air laws. Some localities are facing curious proposals to exempt smoking lounges that would allow for cigar or even marijuana use indoors—including localities with long-standing and popular comprehensive laws. The industry never stops!
Given that COVID is a respiratory driven pandemic, now more than ever reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and respiratory droplets that can be transmitted when someone exhales secondhand smoke or aerosol/vapor is exceptionally important. We intend to continue to expand smokefree protections in 2022, for all workers—in restaurants, bars, casinos, and music venues.
We will continue to provide the best advice and assistance to community based partners, public health colleagues, and members like you with the most up-to-date information and resources.
Some of you may have attended or know about the ANR Foundation’s Clearing the Air: An Institute for Policy and Advocacy (CTA), our 3-day invitation-only skills building conference for smokefree and tobacco control partners and advocates. This Institute is designed to foster and equip a grassroots network across the country to address smokefree air issues.
As with many of our meetings and trainings, CTA has gone virtual. While we lose some of the benefits of being together in person, such as building trust with new and long-standing partners, going virtual means that more people can participate. We have nearly 500 registrants who can attend the webinars each month and/or watch recordings of each session at their convenience, thereby building a larger group of smokefree experts and advocates. Together we are stronger!
A HOPEFUL 2022
The pandemic has created some unique opportunities for smokefree law and policy development, so much of our advocacy focus in 2022 will be in those cities and states, as well as Tribal nations, where voluntary policies have been in place and/or where policy makers and health advocates started plans in 2021: Louisiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee.
Our team is also watching closely for bill language that would undermine our public health goals. Our goal is to ensure that everyone can breathe safe, healthy, smokefree indoor air.
Thank you for believing in the nonsmokers’ rights movement, for being part of the solution, and for helping us continue our work to bring smokefree air to all.
In good health,
ANR’s 46th anniversary is March 1, 2022. We celebrate the founding of ANR every year with our Day of Breathing to focus attention on the dangers of secondhand smoke and our work to eradicate it nationwide. We encourage you to take to social media, e-mail, or call on your network to friend-raise on behalf of ANR. Plan to wear blue and make a pledge to support us in 2022!
HOW WE WORK FOR
Educate, then Legislate.
ANR and the ANR Foundation have a wealth of materials and resources to educate individuals, coalitions, the general public, media, and policy makers. From videos with musicians or about casinos, tip sheets and model policy language, or sample ads and messaging, we have the tools to help you prepare the soil for a successful campaign.
Start Strong. Stay Strong.
Never start out with weak policy language and assume you will strengthen it later. ANR’s model ordinance has been tested over time and in the courts.
A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.
Speak up often about the need for 100% smokefree air provisions for all workers at all times. If we don’t ask, then our needs and demands will not be heard. We must also voice concerns about opposition arguments and misinformation or attempts to make exemptions to smokefree protections.
People are not an exemption.
Everyone deserves to breathe smokefree air. Our work is now, and always has been, focused on people/employee rights. It's not about "policy wins"—it's about protecting people because everyone deserves the right to breathe smokefree air.
Be Prepared to Walk Away.
There are times when it is better to walk away and start over instead of accepting a weak or poorly written law that would not protect all workers. ANR created a Deal-breakers Worksheet for coalitions to review and utilize to determine when they may need to stop a campaign.
The Process is the Magic.
We Will Close the Gaps.
ANR celebrates its 46th anniversary on March 1; we have seen the change in public opinion, the growth in the science of the hazards of secondhand smoke exposure, the health and economic benefits of smokefree air, and the number of strong laws grow and expand into localities in nearly every state. We have accomplished a great deal and honed our skills as we have worked with nonsmokers’ rights advocates and thousands of others over the past four decades, and we look forward to making new connections and increasing health equity for all communities as we continue to close the gaps in smokefree protections nationwide.
CASINO WORKERS: NEW JERSEY
We have made significant progress in our advocacy for smokefree casino policies that protect workers and guests alike. While we have focused on several states, our top priority has been New Jersey, where we believe all the necessary components are coming together to close the casino smoking loophole in the state law in 2022.
Success in New Jersey, a top-three gaming market, would have major ramifications for other large gaming markets, most notably Pennsylvania and Nevada—states ANR would turn to next. Gaming executives would begin to question their smoking policies more seriously, casino workers in those states would begin to believe going smokefree is possible for them, too, and reporters in these markets would begin to take the issue more seriously, putting aside skepticism that exists now.
Several big moments helped to shape the narrative around this issue for the press, legislators, and partners last year:
June 2021: When Governor Murphy announced smoking would return because his emergency order was expiring, more than 50 workers demonstrated on the Atlantic City boardwalk and drove widespread media coverage.
October 2021: At the Global Gaming Expo, the largest casino gaming industry conference event of the year in Las Vegas, ANR Foundation organized a press conference with Atlantic City workers and flew them to the event to raise smoking as an issue that the industry couldn’t avoid, generating significant media coverage of their plight.
December 2021: ANR Foundation again partnered with workers to organize a press conference outside the state capitol in Trenton that once again drove attention in the press to the issue of smoking.
Now, in January 2022, as the regular legislative session has just begun, the coalition is in a strong position to push this legislation across the finish line.
Nicole, an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino worker leading a protest for smokefree air.
In 2020, we launched a new project that resulted in the formation of Musicians for a Smokefree Tennessee, a statewide coalition of musicians, public health partners, and businesses coming together to encourage Tennessee to go smokefree inside its music venues and bars.
ANR Foundation has been collaborating with public health partners in Tennessee for decades on smokefree and other tobacco control projects, but hasn't witnessed momentum like this in quite some time.
In just over a year, this coalition has grown from four partners to 85, and has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Tennessean, News Channel 5 Nashville, the East Nashvillian; Tennessee Lookout; Fox17; and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. We've helped eight venues go smokefree, including the state's largest, Nissan Stadium.
ANR Foundation's Smokefree Music Cities project and the Musicians for a Smokefree Tennessee continue to work together with artists across Tennessee and recently launched “Smokefree Sessions,” a video series designed to bring awareness to musicians’ exposure to secondhand smoke in bars and clubs.
We currently have eight artists from Chattanooga and Memphis, and we are recruiting more to join in! Follow the action online: smokefreetennessee.com.
ANR Foundation's report on the status of smokefree air in the U.S. will be republished with new information in summer 2022.