New Jersey casino workers push for smoking ban

The smoking ban bill has sat with lawmakers in the state for over a year.
The smoking ban bill has sat with lawmakers in the state for over a year.

A group of workers from the Atlantic City’s nine casinos marched to the state capitol to complain about lawmakers’ lack of action on the smoking ban bill.

US.- Casino workers in Atlantic City, New Jersey, have expressed their anger with the New Jersey Legislature after lawmakers implemented tax breaks for casinos rather than move forward on a measure that would permanently prohibit smoking in the casinos. The smoking ban bill has sat with lawmakers in the state for over a year without action.

A group of workers from the city’s nine casinos marched to the state capitol in Trenton to form a protest, calling for approval of a bill that would end the exemption in New Jersey’s public health law that prohibits smoking in virtually all indoor places except casinos.

The state’s smoking ban was temporarily expanded to include casinos as part of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 but was lifted in July of this year.

“Why doesn’t the state of New Jersey care about us?’ asked Lamont White, a Borgata dealer who has worked in Atlantic City casinos for 36 years. “Why is the (Legislature) focused on tax cuts for the casinos rather than the health of their workers? Please, don’t leave us behind in the smoke.”

Last month, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network released a poll it commissioned that showed New Jersey residents favoured banning smoking in casinos by a margin of greater than 2-to-1.

Robin Vitulle, a dealer supervisor in Atlantic City for more than 36 years, said: “We’re glad that New Jersey voters agree that we should not have to choose between our health and a paycheck. From our experiences, our customers have no problem stepping outside to smoke because they must do so everywhere else. Then they come back inside and continue to gamble.

In April, Atlantic City casinos voiced opposition to the proposed ban on indoor smoking. The Casino Association of New Jersey, the lobbying group that represents the nine casinos, said: “Banning smoking permanently would have long-term financial implications for the industry and the region.

“Going completely nonsmoking would place Atlantic City casinos at a competitive disadvantage with other nearby casinos that allow smoking.”

According to the group, casinos have guaranteed the air quality inside venues by investing in state-of-the-art air filtration systems that circulate fresh air.

See also: Group pushes for casino smoking ban

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