Atlantic City Casino Smoking Opponents Taking Campaign to New Jersey Capital

Posted on: December 8, 2021, 02:48h. 

Last updated on: December 8, 2021, 03:21h.

Atlantic City casino smoking remains prevalent on the nine gaming floors, despite the ongoing presence of a global respiratory pandemic. Advocates campaigning for clean indoor air in the resorts plan to take their message to Trenton, the New Jersey capital, as of tomorrow, December 9.

Atlantic City casino smoking CEASE
CEASE members protest Atlantic City casino smoking in October. The anti-indoor casino smoking group will hold another rally in Trenton on December 9, 2021. (Image: NJ Advance Media)

CEASE — Casino Employees Against Smoking’s (Harmful) Effects — will gather outside the War Memorial in Trenton at 9:30 am EST. The advocacy, with little success, has been calling on state lawmakers to end the clean indoor air loophole afforded to the Atlantic City casinos.

The anti-smoking crowd hopes their message will be better heard by lawmakers when they gather adjacent to the New Jersey State House tomorrow morning.

Group Argues Casinos Over People

CEASE contends that Murphy, Sweeney, and other powerful state lawmakers are wrongly concentrating their time and efforts on a payment relief bill for the casinos instead of the well-being of casino employees.

Why are Governor Murphy and legislative leaders trying to quietly rush through a bill that gives tax breaks to casinos while leaving us behind? We cannot keep breathing secondhand smoke for eight hours a day at our workplace,” a CEASE release to declared.

CEASE says Murphy’s comments earlier this year that he’d sign legislation that reaches his desk that would end the casino smoking immunity have gone unfulfilled. The organization takes issue with the governor — who narrowly avoided a shocking upset last month to serve a second term — in that his priorities are out of line.

“[Murphy] and the legislature need to get their priorities straight,” the anti-smoking organization concluded.

New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act became effective on April 15, 2006. The statute prohibits indoor tobacco smoking in most workplaces and buildings open to the public. But the law came with an exception that allows casinos to designate up to 25 percent of their gaming floor space for smoking.

 Industry Opposition

The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ), which represents the nine gaming resorts in Trenton, continues to oppose the state mandating that indoor tobacco use be prohibited for gamblers.

The group argues that such a regulatory change would put Atlantic City at an operational disadvantage compared with neighboring competition in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State allows casino smoking in designated areas. Four cities in Virginia are in the process of developing casinos, and gaming smoking sections are expected indoors at those forthcoming venues.

However, casinos in nearby Delaware, New York, and Maryland are all completely smoke-free. The Atlantic City Council voted in August to support Senate Bill 1878, legislation that seeks to permanently extinguish indoor casino smoking in New Jersey.

Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casinos are faring well in 2021. Through 10 months, land-based gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines and table games totals roughly $2.14 billion. That is 75 percent better than last year, but nearly five percent lower than 2019, when GGR stood at $2.25 billion through 10 months.