Atlantic City Casinos Say No to Smoking Ban
Casinos in Atlantic City are fighting an effort to permanently ban smoking within gaming venues, citing air filtrations systems as a benefit.
Back in 2007, the Smoke-Free Air Act was passed in New Jersey, limiting smoking in the state. However, for casinos in Atlantic City, the act did not apply. Casinos have been able to remain smoke zones and don’t want to change. Yet over the past few months, the venues have done without smoking due to the high spread rate of the COVID-19 pandemic. Guests were asked to wear masks at all times, so smoking was not allowed. Now, pro-smoking ban groups want to see casinos continue to with a smoking ban, on a permanent basis.
The Smoking Ban Effort
Back in July, the casinos in Atlantic City were allowed to reopen at a lower capacity and with rules in place. Smoking was not allowed indoors due to the risk of COVID-19. Experts believe that secondhand smoke will spread the virus, so it was not allowed.
Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic is improving, advocates of anti-smoking feel that officials in New Jersey should force casinos to remain smoke free. They point out that players still visited and the health risks of smoking in general should now be considered. The ban should also include vaping.
Legislation was recently introduced in the state Senate that would remove casinos as exempt from the indoor smoking ban. For Governor Phil Murphy, he seems undecided on the matter. He was asked back in May about the hot topic of debate and said he had no opinion. He did say that the anti-smoking group does have a compelling case on the matter.
Air Filtration Systems Help
For the casinos, they are defending their stance surrounding smoking by pointing out the air filtration systems that are in place. Such systems were a hot topic when the pandemic began as they were used to filter germs from the air.
The Casino Association of New Jersey stated that they understand the need for clean air due to health and safety of the guests and employees of casinos. This is why state of the art air filtration systems have been installed to circulate fresh air throughout the venues. According to the association, when the pandemic began, experts were brought in to review the systems and they found the units to be effective in keeping the air quality fresh and clean.
Yet, major health experts do not seem to agree. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the ventilation systems do not effectively protect individuals from secondhand smoke. This is the main point of contention for the anti-smoking advocates.
The CDC says that secondhand smoke has over 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of the chemicals involved in cigarette smoke are toxic and as many as 70 can cause cancer. For gamblers who do not smoke, they are exposed to the secondhand smoke when visiting which can lead to health issues that they should not have to deal with.
There is no risk-free solution except to do away with smoking altogether. Even a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to immediate harm to an individual. A 100% smoke free environment is the only way to solve the problem.
For now, the two sides are in complete disagreement. Casinos will continue to fight the current legislation on the table because they fear that large losses will be seen due to the loss of smoking. However, it seems that people have been able to adapt in other scenarios so it they really want to gamble, it makes sense that they would visit even though they are not allowed to smoke indoors.
We will watch as see how the effort develops and report on any significant updates as they happen.