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Ban Tobacco Use in Atlantic City Casinos Is Being Considered by Lawmakers in New Jersey!


In a significant move for public health and workplace safety, New Jersey legislators are considering a bill that seeks to eliminate a current exemption in the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act. This exemption currently permits smoking in designated areas of casino gaming floors in Atlantic City, affecting about 25% of the total floor space. The proposal has garnered bipartisan support and was the focus of an emotionally charged hearing by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in Trenton.

This session witnessed compelling testimonies from various stakeholders, including CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects) and the UAW (union representing dealers). These groups highlighted the grave health risks of secondhand smoke exposure, citing cases of cancer among non-smoking casino employees.

One striking testimony came from Patrick Ashton, a UAW International Representative, who spoke about attending the funeral of a 54-year-old casino dealer, a non-smoker who died from lung and thyroid cancer.  Ashton’s statement, “The sad stories are over. The facts are in, there is no compromise,” underscores the urgent need for action.

Ban Tobacco Use in Atlantic City Casinos Is Being Considered by Lawmakers in New Jersey!

Nicole Vitola, a dealer and member of CEASE, criticized the casinos for their lackadaisical attitude toward employee health, particularly since the onset of the pandemic. She noted that casinos continue to facilitate smoking by providing ashtrays, essentially promoting smoking at gaming tables.

However, the proposed smoking ban faces opposition from several commercial organizations. The Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, the Casino Association of New Jersey, and Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. argue that a complete smoking ban could adversely impact tourism, revenue, and employment in the region.

Joe Dougherty of the Casino Association expressed concerns about potential job losses and a decline in economic development due to reduced visitor numbers if the ban is implemented. Despite the opposition, the Senate health committee plans to vote on the bill in the coming month.

Ban Tobacco Use in Atlantic City Casinos Is Being Considered by Lawmakers in New Jersey!

If passed, it would still require approval through several more legislative stages. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has indicated his support for the measure, stating that he intends to sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

This legislative effort represents a critical junction in balancing public health concerns with economic interests in one of the nation’s most prominent gaming hubs. The outcome of this bill could set a precedent for similar actions in other states and regions​​.

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