Atlantic City casino workers urge lawmakers to pass casino smoking ban bill

Atlantic City casino workers descended on Trenton on Monday for a long-awaited hearing on a bill that would ban smoking inside casinos.

News 12 Staff

Feb 14, 2023, 2:25 AM

Updated 515 days ago

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Atlantic City casino workers descended on Trenton on Monday for a long-awaited hearing on a bill that would ban smoking inside casinos. Many of the workers say that passing the bill is important for their health.
“I’ve got two kids. I have a 9-year-old and a 15-year-old and a wife and they worry about me every day,” says Pete Naccarelli, of the group Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects.
The 2006 law that banned indoor smoking throughout New Jersey carved out a special exemption just for casinos. Workers and their advocates say they’ve been dealing with health issues related to secondhand smoke ever since.
“This isn’t about this money thing. This is about health, and this is about our family and my coworkers,” says Nicole Vitola, of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects.
But casinos and their supporters have said a ban would cost them business from smokers who would choose to gamble in other states. This could be as much as 11% of revenue and 2,500 jobs.
“I would argue that the timing is not right today,” says Christina Renna, of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey. “I do also believe that a smoking ban will happen. I do believe it will happen. I think it’s inevitable that it will happen. And quite frankly it’s probably the right thing to do. But the timing needs to be right when it’s done.”
Still, those in favor of the ban say that the excuse of a loss in revenue is no longer valid.
"The argument the casino makes is the same stale argument they’ve had throughout the years as it’s going to kill business: the same argument the airlines had when they disqualified smoking, the same arguments the bar and restaurants had,” says Patrick Ashton, of UAW International.
A vote for the bill has not yet been scheduled.
Smoking was banned in casinos for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that was only through a pandemic executive order from the governor.


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