Atlantic City Council Shows Support for Casino Smoking Ban

Atlantic City

The Atlantic City Council recently passed a resolution to close a loophole that allows smoking inside Atlantic City casinos.

A change may be coming to Atlantic City casinos soon, one that has anti-smokers applauding. The Atlantic City Council recently passed a resolution to close a loophole that allows casinos in the area to offer indoor smoking. Americans for Nonsmokers Rights have thanked the City Council for its effort to stop smoking from taking place inside the casinos.

Details of the Change

On August 25, the Atlantic City Council met and voted for a resolution that will support the New Jersey Senate Bill 1878. The legislation will stop all smoking inside casinos and facilities that offer smoking. In the state, there is already a smoking ban in place, but gaming facilities were excluded.

In a statement, Americans for Nonsmokers Rights thanked the council for its decision. The group called the move a positive step forward, ensuring that employees are not forced to choose between earning a paycheck or their health.

Back in 2006, the Smoke-Free Air Act eliminated smoking in the state but gave Atlantic City casinos immunity. Other indoor public businesses are not allowed to offer smoking, but casinos have the ability to set aside 25% of their gaming floor for the activity.

Casinos Will Fight Back

While the Atlantic City Council is backing the legislation, casinos are not. Gaming venues across the city have come out against an indoor smoking ban, stating it will hurt their business. Anti-smoking groups disagree.

The argument among opponents of smoking is that casinos have done just fine during the pandemic as smoking was temporarily banned. Across the US, casinos operated with such a ban in place due to the risk of spreading COVID-19. Some areas even reported record revenues despite not offering smoking.

Opponents state that there is no evidence to suggest that banning smoking permanently will lead to less visitors in Atlantic City. While this may be the case, lawmakers do not seem to be 100% on board with making the ban a reality.

According to reports, Senate President Stephen Sweeny is a big obstacle for the bill to move forward. The Americans for Nonsmokers Rights group is currently working to create a coalition that consists of casino employees, businesses, lawmakers, and other individuals who think that inaction against smoking is unacceptable.

Months ago, Sweeney commented to the press that the ban would chase away a percentage of the business. However, according to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, legislators have no choice but to pass legislation later this year and quite using the old arguments is not going to work this time.

So far, SB 1878 has not been able to gain a lot of support in Senate. The bill is still sitting in the committee and does not look like it is going to advance anytime soon. It is now sitting in the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. Supporters of the legislation feel that it needs more support and attention if it is going to move forward.

Co-authors of the measure, Senators Shirley Turner and Joseph Vitale, stated in their bill that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health feel that casinos workers are at a greater risk for developing heart and lung disease due to secondhand smoke. This is why the push is so strong to help employees have a safe work environment instead of having to worry about the repercussions of second-hand smoke due to their workplace.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.