New Jersey’s laws that allow smoking in the state’s casinos may soon be a thing of the past. On August 25, the Atlantic City Council voted in favor of Senate Bill 1878 that aims to completely ban indoor smoking and finally resolve what many considered to be a problem.
Involved Parties Lay Down Their Arguments and Concerns
Although local casinos were all but happy to hear this, the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights movement was quite thankful for the government’s decision. ANSR’s president and CEO, Cynthia Hallett, released a statement on the matter where she said that now non-smoker casino workers won’t have to ruin their health for a paycheck.
Under the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, casinos were allowed to have as much as a quarter of their total play area dedicated to smokers. Although non-smoking clients still had a lot of space, non-smoking casino employees who worked in that area had to deal with tobacco.
Casino owners are quite unhappy about the prospects of smoking being banned as they fear that it will hurt their revenues. In turn, the anti-smoking movement points out that many casinos throughout the United States have banned tobacco and are yet to experience any income drop because of it. On the contrary, statistics showed that Pennsylvania’s market is on a steep rise regardless of the cigarette ban.
ANSR’s Hallet pointed out these facts and emphasized that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that people will stop frequenting casinos over a smoke ban.
A Tough Fight Ahead
Although the Atlanta City Council supports the smoke ban, changes to the state’s laws are yet to be approved by the Senate. In an interview with Casino.org, Hallett said that Senate President Stephen Sweeney is the biggest opponent of the Bill. Sweeney’s reasoning is that COVID-19 has already hurt business a lot, and a smoke ban may add further weight on casino owners’ shoulders.
Because of the tough fight ahead, the anti-smoke movement has started gathering supporters to show the importance of a change. Its supporters include lawmakers, business owners, and casino workers. Hallett is hellbent to use everything in her power to get the ban passed.
“State legislators will have no choice but to pass this legislation during the lame-duck session later this year. Tired industry arguments for keeping indoor smoking no longer carry weight, especially since Atlantic City casinos thrived while operating smoke-free,” she declared.
The Bill’s co-authors Senator Shirley Turner and Joseph Vitale, have also pointed out the higher risk of lung disease that casino workers are exposed to. According to research, the air in casinos can have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles than the air on rush-hour highways.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy commented that the anti-smokers case is compelling. However, the Senate is yet to take any action for or against Bill 1878.