New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Fully Embraces Atlantic City Casino Smoking Ban

Posted on: September 23, 2021, 01:13h. 

Last updated on: September 23, 2021, 03:16h.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) this week gave anti-smoking advocates in New Jersey the news they’ve been seeking for many months: his support of banning smoking inside Atlantic City casinos.

New Jersey Murphy Atlantic City casino smoking
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy pledges his commitment to banning smoking inside Atlantic City casinos. But the governor says he can only do so with the support of the state legislature. (Image: News 12 New Jersey)

During his latest edition of “Ask Gov. Murphy” on News 12 New Jersey, the Democratic governor, nearing the end of his first term, was asked why tobacco smoking inside Atlantic City’s nine casinos remains permitted.

“There was a period of time due to the public health emergency where we did not allow that [smoking] in the casinos. But at a certain point, that was always going to expire, and it did expire,” Murphy responded.

I’ve said this unequivocally… If legislation comes to my desk that would ban smoking in casinos, you should assume that I will sign it,” the governor affirmed.

It’s not the first time Murphy has publicly expressed his consideration of making Atlantic City go smoke-free. In June, he said anti-smoking advocates have made “a very compelling case.”

New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006 came with a stipulation for Atlantic City casinos that allows them to designate up to 25 percent of their gaming floors for smoking.

Anti-Smoke Advocates Rejoice

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) has been leading the campaign in New Jersey to extinguish indoor casino smoking. The nonprofit works to educate the public on the dangers and harmful effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.

Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of ANR, welcomed Murphy’s commitment to signing legislation that would end the Atlantic City casino clean air loophole.

“We are grateful for the governor’s clear answer that he would sign legislation to … protect the health of gaming employees while they are at work,” Hallett said in a release issued to

It wasn’t all cheers, however, as Hallett reaffirmed the hurdles facing lawmakers in Trenton who wish to end smoking on Atlantic City casino floors. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) has sided with the state gaming industry in opposing efforts to make gambling free of indoor tobacco smoke.

Hallett as a result called on the governor to pressure Sweeney and other powerful state lawmakers into supporting a clean air casino bill.

“Atlantic City casino workers cannot wait any longer,” she opined.

Industry Opposition

The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) claims a smoking ban would hurt business. And with Atlantic City’s nine casino operators reeling from COVID-19, the lobbying group says now is certainly not the time to consider such legislation.

A smoking ban would have a significant adverse effect on Atlantic City, resulting in a decline in customers which would cause job loss, and ultimately a decline in tax revenue,” the CANJ declared in July.

Murphy is up for reelection on November 2 against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Murphy holds a more than double-digit lead in the latest polling.

Online political betting exchange PredictIt has Murphy’s shares of winning a second term trading at 95 cents. Ciattarelli’s shares of winning the gubernatorial election are at just a nickel.