Atlantic City Closer to Snuffing Out Cigars on Casino Floors

The “No Smoking Allowed” sign may become a permanent fixture in the majority of Atlantic City casinos. Surprisingly, the pitch to do so comes not from some fringe political group that takes public health and safety to the extreme, but rather casino workers themselves.

Indoor Casino Smoking in Casino – Snuffed Out

Atlantic City’s casino workers have pooled their resources to push a bipartisan bill that would prohibit smoking on gaming floors. The idea of banning smoking in gaming venues was first floated during the pandemic when it was believed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could live in the air or use cigar smoke to piggyback to the next host.

Many casino workers witnessed an overall improvement in their immediate working environment after experimenting with a temporary prohibition on in-doors smoking, and that sparked interest in making the solution permanent.

Presently, smoking is allowed on up to 20% 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.

The bill proposed by advocates of the measure and pitched by legislators is making new friends. Sen. Michael Testa, a Republican, joined as a co-sponsor earlier this week. He is in the company of Democrats Shirley Turner, Patrick Diegnan, Teresa Ruiz, Joseph Vitale, Vin Gopal, and fellow Republican Vince Polistina. He did not hesitate to outline his motivation:

“Casino workers should have the same right to work in a safe and healthy environment as any other worker in our state.”

Sen. Michael Testa

Much of the credit to eliminating indoor smoking goes not to the casinos directly, but to the workers who have made it their priority to get rid of any hazardous working conditions.

Just a Spark Sends the Establishment Up in Fire

Before long, a group of anti-smoking advocates was formed, comprising of both legal experts and workers, but also state elected officials, giving more gravity to the matter, and boosting its chances of succeeding. Borgata dealer and leader of the anti-smoking group Nicola Vitola said that the group has brought together a broad coalition:

“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.”

Borgata dealer and leader of the anti-smoking group Nicola Vitola

Naturally, some casino industry groups have opposed the measure, cautioning that the full prohibition on smoking may have an adverse effect. According to the Casino Association of New Jersey, banning smoking completely would translate into a further economic slowdown. Fewer visitors would come to Atlantic City, opting for Pennsylvanian casinos instead.

“A decline in our customer base would also cause economic hardship to a large portion of the 20,000 employees who rely on the tips and customer volume that our industry provides.”

Casino Association of New Jersey

However, there have been reports from Delaware and Nevada that introducing a smoking ban had not in fact impinge on financial results in those states’ casinos. Even though the association has a somewhat well-argued point to make, it seems casino workers are keener on creating the best working environment for themselves rather than trying to chase a profit margin.

Given that definitive evidence of the negative impact of anti-smoking on the economy is still lacking, casino workers have chosen to go with what will one day be the golden standard for an in-door health environment on casino floors.

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