NJ Senate Health Committee Approves Bill Banning Smoking at Atlantic City Casinos
The casinos in Atlantic City are getting closer to becoming completely smoke-free. This time, for real.
On January 29, S1493, a bill that would outlaw smoking inside Atlantic City casinos, was approved by the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. For a second reading, the measure will be sent to a different Senate committee, most likely Budget & Appropriations.
With its resolution, the committee has taken a major step toward closing the so-called “casino loophole” in the state’s 2006 Smoke-Free Air Act. A nearly two-thirds majority of the State Legislature supported a substantially comparable plan that languished in the Senate health committee in 2023.
According to an approved change, the smoking ban would take effect ninety days after the governor signs the measure. Should a measure pass the State Legislature, Governor Phil Murphy has said he will sign it into law and close the smoking loophole at casinos.
Smoking at Atlantic City Casinos Seems to be Coming to an End
Proponents of the ban on smoking praised the Senate committee’s decisions.
After more than 17 years since New Jersey passed the state’s first clean air act, Cynthia Hallett, president, and CEO of Americans For Nonsmokers’ Rights, said in a press release that followed the vote that the organization is thrilled that lawmakers today voted to end indoor smoking in Atlantic City casinos and protect the lives of thousands of casino workers.
In front of the Senate health committee on January 29, Hallett appeared alongside Nicole Vitola, a table games dealer at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and co-founder of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s (Harmful) Effects, or C.E.A.S.E. According to Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, the chairman of the Senate health committee, the two anti-smoking campaigners were among a small number of invite-only witnesses invited to testify.
Vitola claimed she has been dealing cards for over 27 years, even when she was pregnant. She has spoken many times in support of shutting the casino loophole.