On Thursday afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy said smoking in casinos would resume on Sunday as the smoking ban ends.
Murphy said: “Would I be open-minded, would I be constructive on legislation, because I need to do this statutorily, that could come to me in the future, to extend that ban or make it more permanent? I would be very constructive on that.”
Although the Governor said he may support the legislation to ban smoking permanently from casinos, smoke-free casino advocates are still frustrated at the decision to lift the current smoking ban.
Robert Zlotnick PhD, Co-Founder of Smoke-Free Atlantic City, said: “Casino employees came out in force today to protest the potential return of smoking at their workplaces, and now that fear is coming to fruition over the July 4th holiday.
“Instead of independence from the well-established health dangers of second-hand smoke, employees will have to choose between a paycheck and their health. Our state legislators must act and stop defending the indefensible.”
American Nonsmokers Rights President and CEO, Cynthia Hallett, similarly spoke about employees having to choose between their paycheck and health, and added that guests will have to “endure the second-hand smoke that doesn’t abide by so-called smoking sections.”
But she was encouraged by Murphy’s closing comments. Hallett added: “We’ve always known that a legislative solution is the best way to finally close the casino loophole, and we are encouraged that Governor Murphy appears supportive of legislative action.
“Casino employees and advocates will be holding him to account for putting actions behind his words. Atlantic City casinos have been thriving while operating smoke-free, and we’re glad that the message that smoke-free is good for business is being heard.”
Data shows Atlantic City casinos have yielded 11% greater profits while operating smoke-free during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2019 when smoking was allowed.