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Atlantic City Casinos May Continue to Allow Smoking under New Proposal

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The ongoing debate over whether smoking should be permitted in Atlantic City's casinos has taken a new turn. Senator John Burzichelli has introduced a bill that would grant the casinos many of their requests, despite a strong push from numerous casino workers to ban smoking altogether.

Fueling the Casino Smoking Debate

Burzichelli's proposal, Bill S2651, maintains the existing restriction of a 25 percent limit on smoking-permitted areas in casinos. Nonetheless, it grants permission for smoking within designated areas alongside slots, as long as these sections are at least 15 feet away from the table games where live dealers are stationed. This provision aims to give support to smokers while considering the preferences of non-smoking individuals.

Related: Atlantic City Casino Smoking Ban Discussion Back on the Table

Furthermore, the proposed legislation entails granting casinos the privilege to provide designated smoking zones within air-conditioned spaces. However, it carries a caveat that no employee may be compelled to work in such an area if they express their unwillingness to do so.

Nine casinos in Atlantic City have voiced their concerns regarding the potential negative consequences of a smoking ban, specifically in relation to neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, which still permit smoking. These concerns primarily revolve around the potential loss of jobs and a decline in revenue.

Conversely, officials argue that prioritizing the health of individuals should take precedence over the profits of the casinos, pointing out that smoke-free establishments in other states have thrived. Notably, it is important to mention that casinos are exempt from New Jersey's 2006 law that forbids smoking in nearly all other workplaces.

Smoking Ban Support Remains Strong

The emergence of this advancement has paved the way for an altercation between two rival legislations. Firstly, there is the bill proposed by Burzichelli, presenting itself as a middle ground solution that endeavors to appease all factions involved in the discourse. Conversely, there exist alternative bills that strive to ban smoking entirely within casinos.

There’s doubt about whether Burzichelli's bill will be capable of appeasing both sides of the ongoing argument. The Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society has already requested New Jersey legislators on Wednesday to decline the new bill and enforce a prohibition on smoking. Governor Murphy, in addition, has repeatedly expressed his backing for a smoking ban within casinos and affirmed his intent to block the legislation if the Legislature approves it.

Despite numerous conflicting bills and the potential for heated deliberations in the upcoming weeks, the outcome of the smoking ban's fate remains unclear. The state Senate committee, which recently approved a different smoking ban bill, has now referred Burzichelli's bill for debate. Despite this, there is currently no ongoing discussion.

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