Atlantic City casino workers continue push for smoking ban bill

A group of legislators is pushing for an across-the-board smoking ban at Atlantic City casinos.
A group of legislators is pushing for an across-the-board smoking ban at Atlantic City casinos.

About 250 casino workers gathered in a park on Tuesday to call on lawmakers to pass a bill that would end casinos’ exemption from the indoor smoking ban.

US.- With New Jersey bill S264 and Assembly Bill 2151 apparently gaining support in the House, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) met yesterday (Tuesday) to voice their support for a ban on smoking in casinos.

The rally marked the 16th anniversary of the banning on indoor smoking in New Jersey via the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006. Casinos remain the only exception to the act. Smoking at casinos was temporarily banned during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 but were allowed to permit smoking again in July last year.

Lamont White, a dealer at the Borgata casino, said: “Sixteen years ago the state of New Jersey left us behind in the smoke. We are not numbers; we are people.”

Casinos have largely remained opposed to a permanent ban. The Casino Association of New Jersey, the trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos, recently commissioned a report predicting widespread job losses and revenue declines if smoking were banned. Atlantic City.

“Atlantic City has yet to see growth from pre-pandemic levels,” association president Joe Lupo said. “Employment at our casinos is at a 20-year low, with less than 50 per cent of the workforce from 2003.”.

“And land-based casino revenue remains at an almost 50 per cent decrease from our peak in 2006,” he added. “Adding a smoking ban could cause a devastating effect to the community and state.”

However, a bipartisan group of legislators is seeking support for an across-the-board smoking ban at the casinos.

Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said in a statement: “We applaud this bipartisan group of legislators from across New Jersey who understand that worker health must be a priority.

Governor Phil Murphy has said that he would sign such a bill, ending the exemption for casinos in New Jersey’s public health law.

See also: Atlantic City casino smoking ban delayed

The bill has not yet had a hearing in the state Legislature, although it continues to gather support from lawmakers of both parties. It has 28 co-sponsors in the Assembly and 15 in the senate, including majorities of the health committees in both houses.

“No employer should be allowed to knowingly subject their workers to a carcinogen,” said Assembly member Benjie Wimberly in a news release. “I’m co-sponsoring A2151 to protect casino workers from the harmful effects of what has been documented to those who breathe in secondhand smoke. The time is now to get this done.”

See also: Atlantic City casinos against smoking ban

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