The debate over smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos is heating up as workers push for a smoke-free environment. Currently, New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act exempts casinos from indoor smoking bans, allowing them to designate up to 25% of their gaming space for smoking.
Employees are increasingly dissatisfied with the situation, citing exposure to secondhand smoke as a major health concern. The group CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects) has reported cases of workers suffering from lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, and COPD as a result of indoor smoking. They are advocating for a change in legislation to protect the health of casino workers.
On the other hand, the casinos argue that a smoking ban would negatively impact their business. They claim that clients who go outside for a smoke may not return to continue gambling, resulting in potential loss of revenue. However, advocates for the smoking ban argue that it could also lead to lower rates of problem gambling and dispute the casinos’ claims of financial impact.
Opponents of the smoking ban suggest that smokers may choose to gamble in neighboring Philadelphia instead. However, CEASE disputes this, asserting that many gamblers would be more likely to visit Atlantic City’s casinos if indoor smoking was banned.
Senator Joe Vitale has reintroduced Senate Bill 1493, aiming to close the existing loophole in the law. The bill has garnered support from 18 out of 40 state Senators. However, CEASE is not satisfied with other proposed measures, such as filtration systems and smoking rooms, insisting that the only effective solution is a complete ban on indoor smoking.
As the debate continues, the future of smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos remains uncertain, with both workers and casino operators advocating for their preferred outcome.