The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 12.5 percent of American adults above 18 years consume tobacco products daily. Yet, according to the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) Spectrum Gaming research, 21 percent of casino gamblers in Atlantis City smoke.
Casinos are the only indoor work areas where smoking is permitted in Atlantis. This puts employees at stake as some are secondhand smokers. The smoke causes 7,300 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year, as shown by a CDC report.
Casino employees are urging the state to introduce bills that will forbid cigarettes in casinos. Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) met on April 12, 2022, to support Senate Bill 264 and Assembly Bill 2151.
Casinos Exempted From Smoking Regulations
The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006 exempts casinos from the regulations, and smoking is permitted in these establishments for the past 16 years. Despite briefly banning smoking in casinos in 2020, as a COVID-19 prevention measure, the ban got lifted in 2021.
The CEASE members agreed to hold a rally on April 12 at McClinton Park to continue their campaign. Employees alongside State Senator Vince Polistina, Assembly members Don Guardian and Claire Swift will attend.
A CEASE statement supplied to Casino.org read that employees had to choose between their health and a paycheck. This isn’t entirely accurate as the 2006 Act also included exemptions for other areas.
Cigar bars, lounges, simulcast facilities, hotels, and motels are to designate areas for smoking. The association encouraged people to join as it believes it is getting closer to achieving its goal.
None Supporting Casino Operators
The nine casinos in Atlantis don’t support the ban. The main reason for this is a study conducted by CANJ.
The CANJ study shows that the implementation of a smoking ban shows that the gross gaming revenue of the casinos in the region will be over 11 percent just two months after its implementation.
Also, 2,500 jobs are at stake. The main casino labor union also opposes the bill as they fear widespread job losses, lost tax revenues, and less money for senior programs.
Joe Lupo, CANJ’s president, argues that the city has not seen growth from pre-pandemic levels and that the land-based casino revenue remains at 26 percent.
The study was defective according to the anti-smoking group, and casino workers dispute its results. They claim that the findings don’t take into account an improvement in revenue and business conditions. This is years later when gamblers use and adapt to a smoke-free environment.
Over 250 members gathered at the park on Tuesday. They called on state lawmakers to pass a bill to include casinos in the indoor smoking law. Also, they say that they are tired of getting sick and watching their colleagues get sick, and inhaling secondhand smoke.
Members of the health committees in the assembly and the Senate have supported and co-sponsored the S264 and A2151 proposals. The state’s Governor, Phil Murphy, has promised to sign the bill once it passes.
The push comes at a time when the casino industry tries to regain business after the pandemic. While also bracing with the opening of two new casinos in New York.