Atlantic City casino smoking ban gains support

35 members of the Assembly and state Senate are sponsoring Bill S264.
35 members of the Assembly and state Senate are sponsoring Bill S264.

A bill that would ban smoking at Atlantic City casinos is gaining traction in the New Jersey Legislature.

US.- New Jersey bill S264, which proposes to eliminate the smoking ban exception for Atlantic City casinos and simulcasting facilities, appears to be gaining support. The bill, which was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee early in January, is being sponsored by 35 members of the state Assembly and Senate.

The support covers both parties and all three Republican lawmakers representing Atlantic City in the Statehouse.

State Sen. Joseph Vitale, a main sponsor and chairman of the Senate’s health committee, said to “It’s the right thing to do,” Vitale said. “How does anyone require people to work in an environment that can give you cancer or emphysema or heart disease? It’s nonsensical that we haven’t changed this.”

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. 

Joe Lupo, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and of the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City, said the push comes at a time when the city is still recovering from Covid-19. He said: “We feel it’s a difficult time to have this negative impact on the business and lay off thousands of employees where they want to work.” 

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.

See also: New Jersey casino workers push for smoking ban

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