Majority of Legislature now sponsoring casino smoking ban bill

The Press Of Atlantic City
Majority of Legislature now sponsoring casino smoking ban bill
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TRENTON — Half of state senators and 43 of 80 Assembly members have signed on to sponsor bills to end legal smoking in casinos.

"We will keep this issue front-and-center over the summer and work to make sure it’s a top priority when legislators return to Trenton in September," said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, in a press release Wednesday. "Especially in light of the new reality that smokefree casinos are performing better than their smoking counterparts, there’s no reason not to act."

The Casino Association of New Jersey has strongly opposed the bills, saying banning smoking would harm the industry and cost jobs.

A majority of South Jersey legislators, including the entire Atlantic City delegation, support the bills.

“We started this fight a year ago – Fourth of July marks one year since poisonous smoking came back to our workplaces – knowing little about politics or the legislative process," said Pete Nacarelli, co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects. "It’s amazing what we’ve been able to achieve so far, but we will continue fighting ... Our health and our lives are on the line.”

The bills (S264/A2151) would close the casino smoking loophole and ban indoor smoking in casinos and simulcasting facilities.

Four more senators and six more Assembly members signed this week, according to CEASE and ANR.

Additional legislators have pledged to vote for the bills when they reach the floor in each chamber, the groups said.

While the casino workers' union Unite Here Local 54 opposes the bills, other unions representing casino workers support them.

The union representing Atlantic City casino dealers, UAW, supports the bills as does the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 152, according to the groups. Local 152 represents thousands of retail, manufacturing and healthcare workers in South Jersey who depend on a strong South Jersey economy.

A new study released by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming earlier this month found that banning smoking no longer results in a loss of customers.