Will Lawmakers Support Atlantic City Casino Workers’ Bid to Ban Smoking in Casinos?

Governor Kathy Hochul and Seneca Nation Are Deliberating on a Rochester Casino

Smoking and playing casino games go hand in hand. According to John Cirrincione of Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, smokers play more.

John is the chief executive of the casino in New Mexico. Despite his statement, John eliminated smoking on his casino floor during the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, as most casinos across the U.S. did.

Around 20 U.S. states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, have banned smoking in casinos. This includes casinos operated by Native Americans. Even the country’s largest tribe, Navajo Nation casinos are smoke-free.

Pennsylvania is yet to impose a state-wide ban on smoking on casino floors. However, prominent casino operators in the state have enacted smoke-free environments since the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, all eyes are on Atlantic City. 

Meanwhile, the new president of the Casino Association of New Jersey is of the opinion that it is not yet time to ban smoking in casinos. The chief executive of Resorts, Mark Giannantonio, recognized that smoking in casinos would eventually end. However, he opposes the idea to ban smoking now.

Lawmakers Hold the Decision

New Jersey is a few days closer to a potential ban on smoking in all indoor public places. The state lawmakers are scheduled to meet on Thursday for an important hearing about smoking on the casino floor.

This comes after the introduction of bill S264. The bill seeks to eliminate smoking in designated areas in a casino.

In 2006, the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act was passed, prohibiting smoking in most indoor public places. Bill S264 seeks to eliminate the exemption of the 2006 Smoke-Free Air Act.

The bill has already gained significant support. Ideally, the Senate bill has 26 sponsors, while its Assembly version has 57. The Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday in Trenton.

While the bill supporters believe in the benefits of the smoking ban, opponents have their reasons for their decision. Smoking ban supporters made their decision to protect casino workers from secondhand smoke dangers. Meanwhile, opponents believe the ban will hurt casino revenue, especially for casinos in Atlantic City, whose economic engine is casinos.

Bill S264 and other similar bills often stalled in Trenton. But, with the end of the two-year legislative session coming to an end in January, most bills are advancing rapidly.

Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin subtly threw his support for the bill during a news conference. Craig said his members would look at the bill and see what it can do.

Public Places in New Jersey That Would Still Allow Smoking

Most Atlantic City casinos allow smoking on around 20 percent of their casino floors. These casinos temporarily banned smoking on the floors due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Governor Phil Murphy lifted the ban later, allowing smoking to continue on casino floors.

Apart from casino floors, Bill S264 will ban smoking in broadcast facilities. New Jerseyans would still have public places to smoke. These include golf courses, research laboratories studying the effects of smoking, tobacco shops, cigar lounges, and designated areas on benches.

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