New Jersey’s Bold Move to Ban Smoking in Atlantic City Casinos

Trenton hosted an emotional hearing on a measure aimed at closing a smoking loophole on Thursday. The exception to the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act that permits smoking in specific casino gaming areas would be removed by this measure. At the Atlantic City Currently, 25% of the casino floor is open to smoking.

Both political parties favor this bill. There was standing room only for the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee hearing in the Trenton State House.

The UAW, which represents dealers, and a group called CEASE, or Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, were well-represented.

New Jersey bill seeks to completely ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos:

Many of them discussed friends and colleagues who had received cancer diagnoses, as well as the impacts of secondhand smoke.

“I was at a funeral for a 54-year-old dealer on Tuesday. Non-smoker, died of lung and thyroid cancer. The sad stories are over. The facts are in, there is no compromise,” said Patrick Ashton, a UAW International Representative.

According to Nicole Vitola, a dealer with Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, “Since the pandemic, the casinos haven’t made one attempt to make us feel a little bit better,” “They still keep these ashtrays right on the tables ready for anybody to light up as an advertisement. Here you go sir have a cigarette.”

Along with Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr., a number of business associations voiced their opposition to the smoking ban, including the Casino Association of New Jersey and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce.

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Some claim that banning smoking will reduce income and jeopardize employment.

“Fewer people will come to Atlantic City if there is a complete ban. Fewer people will come to AC, fewer people will eat there, drink there, buy things, stay there,” said Joe Dougherty with the Casino Association of New Jersey. “There will be a reduction in jobs. There will be a reduction in development. There will be negative economic impact.”

The bill will still need to pass through a few more stages after the Senate health committee votes on it next month. Governor Phil Murphy has stated that he plans to sign the law should it reach his desk.

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