Gambling Legislation

Atlantic City casino smoking ban legislation fails to advance

Atlantic City casino smoking ban legislation fails to advance

Senate lawmakers have tabled a discussion on a bill that would prohibit smoking in all casinos

Casino employees must wait a while longer to learn the fate of a bill to end smoking in Atlantic City casinos. Enough co-sponsors have been gained in the state legislature to pass the bill since the start of 2023, which has only been discussed at committee hearings in the two chambers. Before a standing-room-only crowd, it was shelved on Thursday because it lacked enough votes to pass the Senate health committee.

After the session, Committee chairman Sen. Joseph Vitale stated that he still plans to push the bill and that he backs any legislation that “protects workers’ rights and doesn’t compromise their health.” Over an hour of testimony was devoted to the proposal, with casino workers talking about the effect smoking has had on their health and quality of life.

Vincent Steele, the representative for Tropicana, Bally’s and Caesars employees, expressed it’s a “disgrace” that smoking is still permitted 17 years after New Jersey’s smoking ban began and that these employees are “still here begging for their lives.”

Former Governor and State Sen. Dick Codey was in office when the indoor smoking ban was enforced almost two decades ago. He cited that when the bill was introduced, he folded under pressure to create the exemption. “It was wrong,” he said. “The time has come to do the right thing.”

Opponents of the legislation also attended the session, including Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, who voiced concerns about possible job losses and the effect it would have on the city’s economy.

Any bill that clears committee would need 21 votes to pass the Senate and 41 to pass the Assembly before heading to Governor Phil Murphy, who formerly said he would sign the bill if it passes both houses of the Legislature.

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