The battle over smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos has reached a pivotal point with a recent victory for proponents of a smoking ban. The anti-casino smoking measure has moved forward after three years of intense debate and has been approved by the New Jersey Senate health committee. This development has sparked hope among anti-smoking activists, but the war is far from over.
Currently, Atlantic City’s nine casinos are allowed to designate up to 25% of their gaming areas as smoking areas. However, this has raised concerns about the health of employees who are exposed to cigarette smoke throughout their shifts. Proponents of the smoking ban argue that employees should not have to endure these health risks while doing their jobs.
Casino operators, on the other hand, are worried that a smoking ban could impact their business. They fear that patrons who go outside to smoke may decide to leave for the day, and some are concerned that avid smokers may choose to gamble in Philadelphia instead. As a compromise, casino operators have suggested the possibility of designated smoking rooms, but this would still require employees to manage these areas.
The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote, and if it passes, an identical bill must also be approved by an Assembly committee and voted upon by the full chamber. Ultimately, it will be up to Governor Phil Murphy to sign the measure into law.
Supporters of the casino industry have warned that a smoking ban could lead to layoffs and even the closure of three of Atlantic City’s casinos. Donna DeCaprio, president of the Local 54 of the Unite Here union, predicts that as many as 3,000 of the 50,000 casino jobs in the city could disappear. She has called a total ban on smoking an “economic catastrophe.”
On the other hand, Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, cited polls showing that more people would be likely to visit the city’s casinos if a smoking ban was implemented. She also mentioned that previous surveys have found no evidence that a ban on smoking would hurt casino operators’ business.
Senator Shirley Turner emphasized that Americans should not have to choose between their jobs and their health. The fate of smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos remains uncertain as the battle between pro-smoking and anti-smoking advocates continues.