Half of New Jersey senators and 43 out of 80 Assembly members have signed on to sponsor bills to end smoking in casinos.
US.- A push to end smoking at Atlantic City casinos is gaining momentum, with lawmakers from both parties signing on as sponsors of Bill S264. Half of the New Jersey Senate‘s members and more than half of the Assembly‘s members are now co-sponsors.
Four more senators and six more Assembly members signed on last week, according to Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. Some 43 out of the 80 Assembly members are now in favour of the bill to end casinos’ exemption from the state’s indoor smoking ban. Additional legislators have pledged to vote for the bill when it reaches the floor in each chamber, the groups said.
Governor Phil Murphy has said that he would sign such a bill, ending casinos’ exemption from New Jersey’s public health law.
In May, the Stockton University released a poll that showed a majority of people in New Jersey would be in favour of a ban. The university polled 640 New Jersey adults, and 62 per cent said they support a smoking prohibition on casino floors. Some 31 per cent indicated that they opposed a ban, while 6 per cent were unsure.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) has added its voice to calls for a smoking ban at Atlantic City casinos. And on April 12, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) met to voice their support for a ban.
Casinos have largely remained opposed to a ban. The Casino Association of New Jersey, the trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos, commissioned a report predicting widespread job losses and revenue declines if smoking were banned.
Last month, Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International warned Governor Murphy about “economic challenges” if the bill moves forward.
Allen told The Associated Press about his conversation: “I don’t think I was trying to change the governor’s mind. It was a general conversation about the economic challenges of a smoking ban and the impact it would have.
“We operate in many states where smoking is not allowed,” he added. “When you look at markets where smoking has been banned, there have been “significant double-digit declines” in casino revenue.”