Casinos in New Jersey may soon have cleaner air as officials work to close a legal loophole that permits smoking there. A number of anti-smoking and health organizations, as well as the majority of the committee’s important members, advocate a ban on smoking in New Jersey casinos.
The Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Tourism, Gambling, and Arts Committee jointly convened a public hearing on March 9. At the hearing, more than a dozen organizations argued in favor of outlawing smoking in state-run casinos.
Casinos in New Jersey Smoke Ban
The only public spaces in the state that still permit smoking are casinos and gaming rooms. Under the state’s Smoke-Free Air Act, legislation prohibiting smoking in eateries, marketplaces, stores, bars, and saloons was passed in 2006. Nonetheless, that legislation’s phrasing permitted casinos to permit smoking on their property.
There are now two proposals (S264 and A2151) in the state legislature that would close that loophole. Most crucially, a majority of Assembly Health Committee members support banning smoking in casinos in New Jersey.
CBS Philadelphia reported that eight of the committee’s 12 members are in favor of a smoking ban.
A Smoking Ban Has the Support of The Following Organizations:
- United States Cancer Society
- United States Lung Association
- Gambling Problems National Council
- Local 152 of UFCW
- United States Heart Association
- Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign
President and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Cynthia Hallet said, “We applaud the support of a majority of members from these two crucial committees as well as the several additional members who just joined on as cosponsors to the measure.
Speaking in favor of the amendment to the Smoke-Free Air Act, which would make their workplaces healthier for them, were representatives of the casino employees. Secondhand smoke has long been prohibited for state personnel. Smoking is prohibited in casinos in a number of states, including Pennsylvania and New York.
S264 was co-sponsored by State Senators Nicholas Sacco and Renee Burgess. The governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has long pledged to support legislation that closes a strange loophole that casinos have used to permit customers to smoke inside such establishments.
A report on secondhand smoke earlier in 2023 by a Center for Disease Control office in New Jersey claimed that the only way to protect nonsmokers from harm was to outlaw smoking in casinos.
The Assembly Health Committee’s proposal to the state legislature is what will happen after that. The legislation that would repeal the smoking prohibition might then be put to a vote, either one or both. The governor might sign it into law this year if it passes.