The battle over the future of smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos has reached a major turning point as a smoking ban measure has been approved by the New Jersey Senate health committee. This development comes after three years of intense debates and discussions between pro-smoking and anti-smoking groups. The proponents of the smoking ban are hopeful that this approval is a step in the right direction.
The new measure would restrict smoking in Atlantic City’s nine casinos, where currently up to 25% of the gaming area can be designated as a smoking area. However, employees working in these areas are continuously exposed to cigarette smoke, which poses serious health risks.
Casino operators are concerned about the potential impact of a smoking ban on their business, fearing that it may drive patrons away to other locations or result in a decrease in overall revenue. They have been exploring alternative solutions such as designated smoking rooms, but there are still concerns about the health of employees who would have to work in these areas.
The smoking ban measure will now go to the Senate for a vote, with a requirement for an identical bill to be approved by an Assembly committee and the full chamber. Ultimately, Governor Phil Murphy would have to sign the measure into law.
The casino industry has voiced strong opposition to the smoking ban, warning that it could lead to layoffs and even the closure of some casinos. Donna DeCaprio, president of the Local 54 of the Unite Here union, expressed concern that as many as 3,000 of the 50,000 casino jobs in the city could be at risk, and that the ban would have significant economic consequences.
On the other hand, Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, cited polls indicating that a smoking ban could attract more visitors to the city’s casinos. She also noted that previous surveys have found no evidence that a ban on smoking would negatively impact the casinos’ business.
Senator Shirley Turner emphasized the importance of prioritizing the health of employees, stating that Americans should not be forced to choose between their job and their health. As the smoking ban measure progresses through the legislative process, the debate over the future of smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos is far from over.