New Jersey Senate Approves Bill to Ban Casino Smoking

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Smoke-Free Initiative in Atlantic City Casinos Gains Momentum

The Senate Health Committee of New Jersey recently approved a bill that would completely ban smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos. This is a significant step that follows years of lobbying by casino employees who have been advocating for a smoking ban in gambling establishments.

Smoking Ban: A Long History

As far back as 2006, New Jersey banned indoor smoking, with exceptions for casinos and simulcast facilities. For more than three years, casino employees have been campaigning against these exceptions. Currently, smoking is allowed on 25 percent of the gaming floor in Atlantic City’s casinos. However, there are inadequate separations in these areas, allowing smoke to drift into other areas.

Impetus for the Smoking Ban

Following the lifting of temporary restrictions in July 2021 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, there was a significant increase in support for a reassessment of the smoking ban in all casinos in New Jersey. Employees of Atlantic City’s casinos then advocated for legislation that would make the smoking ban in the state’s casinos permanent.

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Conflicts Over the Smoking Ban

The proposals have raised concerns on both sides of the debate. Christina Renna, President and CEO of the South New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, expressed concerns about potential layoffs should a smoking ban be implemented. She emphasized the economic impact on the casino industry. On the other hand, Nicola Vitola, a dealer at Borgata and a leading force in the movement to introduce the casino smoking ban, highlighted the health concerns for casino employees who work in close proximity to smoking guests.

The Future of the Smoking Ban

Should the non-smoking measure be approved, New Jersey’s Governor, Phil Murphy, has announced that he will sign it. The discussions are becoming increasingly complex as the opposing viewpoints bring the potential impacts of a smoking ban on Atlantic City’s economic environment to the forefront. The final decision will have significant implications for the atmosphere and working conditions in Atlantic City’s famous casinos.

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