Atlantic City’s casino smoking ban, a long-debated issue, gained traction as the New Jersey Senate Health Committee greenlit a bill to potentially outlaw smoking in all nine casinos. This marks a pivotal step forward in the four-year campaign for the ban, though more approvals are necessary for it to materialise.

If ratified, the bill would nullify the smoking exemption allowing casinos to designate 25% of gaming floors for smoking. Initially introduced to safeguard workplace health, the general smoking ban and its exemption have stirred debate.

Despite a Stockton University poll showing 62% local support for the casino smoking ban, the committee’s approval prompted vocal clashes between ban proponents and opponents outside the state Capitol.

Critics, including business figures and union leaders, fear economic repercussions such as job cuts and regional economic decline.

Nicola Vitola, a Borgata dealer advocating for the ban, welcomed the bill’s advancement, citing concerns about health risks, particularly during pregnancy.

Christina Renna of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey acknowledged smoking’s harms but warned against potential layoffs.

Local 54 of the Unite Here union’s President, Donna DeCaprio, cautioned against severe job losses due to a total ban.

Cynthia Hallett of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights suggested a ban could actually boost casino visits.

While opposing a blanket ban, the Casino Association of New Jersey proposed alternatives like better ventilation and enclosed smoking areas where no employees would be involuntarily placed.

Senator Vince Polistina is considering a bill that incorporates these suggestions, while the current one moves to the full state Senate and Assembly for approval before reaching Governor Phil Murphy’s desk.

Senator Shirley Turner emphasized the dilemma faced by casino workers, emphasizing the need to choose between employment and health, a situation she deems uncharacteristic of America.

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