The battle over smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos continues as workers renew their efforts to secure a smoke-free workplace for themselves. For reference, New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act exempts casinos from the indoor smoking ban, instead allowing them to dedicate up to a quarter of their gaming space as an indoor smoking area.
While the AC casinos argue that the smoking area is crucial to their business, workers are increasingly unhappy with the state of affairs, saying that the workplace conditions are exposing them to a lot of secondhand smoke. Concerned about their health, these workers hope to usher in a change during the new legislative session.
One of the biggest proponents of a smoking ban, CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects), says that a number of its members have had their health jeopardized by indoor smoking. Citing cases of workers suffering from lung cancer, heart diseases, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the organization once again asked casino operators to prioritize their workers’ health over profits.
Casinos Say the Ban Would Hurt Their Business
New Jersey’s casinos, however, believe that banning smoking can potentially deprive them of a lot of money. According to operators’ arguments, clients who go outside for a smoke may decide to call it a day and not return for another round of wagers.
However, some argue that this is an argument in favor of the smoking ban as it might also lead to lower problem gambling rates. In addition, supporters of the ban on smoking have pointed out that there is no concrete evidence to suggest that a smoking ban would truly affect casinos’ revenues.
Alternatively, opponents of the smoking ban have suggested that smokers might instead go to gamble in Philadelphia. However, CEASE says otherwise, claiming that many gamblers would be more likely to visit Atlantic City’s casinos if indoor smoking was banned.
In any case, Sen. Joe Vitale reintroduced a bill which seeks to patch up the existing loophole. The new measure is called Senate Bill 1493 and is currently supported by 18 out of 40 state Senators. This dwindled support angered CEASE, which rejects the alternative measures some have suggested.
For reference, the organization doubts the efficiency of filtration systems, smoking rooms and voluntary shifts. According to CEASE, the only way forward is a resolute ban on indoor smoking.