Bill making Atlantic City casinos smoke free gains bipartisan support

A bill amending the “New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act” that would prohibit smoking in casinos and simulcasting facilities is gaining bipartisan support.

Current law prohibits smoking in most indoor public places and workplaces, with certain exceptions, including indoor public places and workplaces which are within the perimeter of casinos and casino simulcasting facilities and accessible to the public for wagering. 

This bill, of which Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) is a co-sponsor, would eliminate those exceptions from the smoking ban.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that casino workers are at greater risk for lung and heart disease because of secondhand smoke, and a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that the air in casinos can have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles than the air on rush-hour highways.

This bill (S264) would protect all workers in New Jersey from the hazards of secondhand smoke by requiring that casinos and casino simulcasting facilities be smoke-free workplaces.

Smoking in Atlantic City casinos had been prohibited for approximately one year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Creating a smoke-free environment is not only good for health, it’s good for business,” Diegnan previously stated in a press release. “If there is one thing we learned when we imposed smoke-free regulations, it’s that restaurants, movie theaters and other related industries experience a boom in business because people were in a healthy, comfortable environment. That should be our goal in Atlantic City.”

Senators Shirley Turner (D) and Joseph Vitale (D) are primary sponsors of the legislation, of which Senators Teresa Ruiz (D), Vincent Polistina (R), Vin Gopal (D) and Michael Testa (R) are co-sponsors.

Governor Phil Murphy indicated during an interview on WBGO last week that he would sign the bill if it passed both houses.

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