More senators are expressing their support for the bill that would ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos.
US.- A bill that aims to permanently prohibit smoking in Atlantic City casinos has received more bipartisan support. Republican state senator Michael Testa has voiced his support for the bill.
He said: “Casino workers should have the same right to work in a safe and healthy environment as any other worker in our state.
“We can both protect the health of casino workers and their guests while safeguarding our state’s thriving gaming industry.”
There’s been debate on banning smoking at Atlantic City casinos for years. A temporary ban was imposed in 2020 because of the pandemic, but was lifted in July last year. Casinos have largely remained opposed to a permanent ban. Presently, smoking is allowed on up to 20 per cent of a casino’s floor in the city, but anti-smoking advocates are seeking to strike down this completely, banning smoking on gaming floors as a whole.
Testa, alongside fellow Republican Vince Polistina, and several Democrats counterparts, including Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, reintroduced the bill during the first full day of New Jersey’s current legislative session.
Nicole Vitola, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), welcomed Testa’s support, saying: “We thank Senator Testa for co-sponsoring this bipartisan legislation after meeting with us and hearing our concerns about our health.
“We have support from Republicans and Democrats, as well as legislators across New Jersey, because they recognise that it’s wrong to treat us differently than every other worker in our state.
“Senator Testa understands the urgency of our fight and we are grateful that he is joining us to get this bill across the finish line.”
Governor Phil Murphy has said that he would sign such a bill, ending the exemption for casinos in New Jersey’s public health law, which already prohibits smoking in virtually all other indoor places.
In December casino workers in Atlantic City, New Jersey, expressed their anger with the New Jersey Legislature after lawmakers implemented tax breaks for casinos rather than move forward with a smoking ban. A group of workers from the city’s nine casinos marched to the state capitol in Trenton to form a protest.
However, the Casino Association of New Jersey, the group that represents the nine casinos, is against the bill. “Banning smoking completely and permanently would have long-term financial implications for the industry and the region, placing Atlantic City casinos at a competitive disadvantage with Pennsylvania casinos where smoking is permitted,” commented CANJ president Joe Lupo, as reported by AP News.