February 3, 2023 3 min read


Atlantic City to Debate Smoking Ban in Mid-February

New Jersey is once again taking a look at smoking on-site casinos and whether more restrictive rules ought to be passed

The debate has been going on for the past several years, with two powerful camps attempting to get their way. On the one hand, there are casino workers and some of the unions who have insisted that smoking is a serious health issue and that no individual should be made to choose between getting paid and their health.

The Next Chapter in the Smoking Policy Debate

Now, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee is due for a hearing on February 13. A bill that proposes smoking to be removed from casino floors will be discussed, but no official vote is expected to be held.

The new piece of legislation is attempting to close a loophole introduced with New Jersey’s smoking ban for public places, which essentially allowed casinos to carry on with indoor smoking on up to 25% of their floor since 2006.

While this was mostly tolerated by workers up until 2020, the pandemic seriously exacerbated health concerns, with authorities recommending for better air filtrations to be installed on-site casino properties (and closed spaces in general) and cautioning that cigar smoke could help pathogens, such as COVID-19, spread.

The lobby of non-smokers is definitely a strong one. Americans for Nonsmokers Rights CEO and president Cynthia Hallett has been backing Atlantic City casino workers from the start, and insisting that the upcoming debate, and general movement to end smoking inside casinos, was a historic moment.

It’s an opportunity to protect the health of workers and ensure that dealers are not forced to inhale dangerous fumes that could lead to serious health problems later on.

Sen Joseph Vitale, who sponsors a measure to end the exemption, is confident that the hearing will at least put the matter through legislative bodies, which have seemed keen to support casino workers in theory, and have done so publicly, but have never brought the matter for a serious debate that could have legislative consequences. This is changing now.

Anti-Smoking Sentiments Spreading in the US

New Jersey is not the only state that has been pushing for the end of this smoking exemption. Rhode Island has been another place where workers have reunited and called for the end of smoking, refusing middle-ground policies which put them at disadvantage still.

Meanwhile, some individual state casinos in Michigan and Pennsylvania have welcomed smoking back, although with some caveats. The Casino Association of New Jersey has also appealed to workers and lawmakers to bear with the businesses for another few years, arguing that despite reassuring bottom lines, the casinos had to pay third parties a lot to maintain business.

Ending smoking, they fear, would mean fewer visitors coming to the casinos, and from there on in – a slower recovery. Those claims have been dismissed by the anti-smoking camp, pointing at successful examples of no-smoking casinos in other states.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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