By Lewis Gould
New Jersey lawmakers will discuss a proposed law that would ban smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos, the first action in nearly three years on an emotional issue that is dividing casino patrons and sickening some workers.
The state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will hold a hearing Feb. 13 in Trenton to discuss the bill, but does not plan to vote on it that day, according to Sen. Joseph Vitale, one of the measure’s sponsors.
The bill would close a loophole in New Jersey’s 2006 indoor smoking law that exempts casinos. Currently, smoking is allowed on up to 25% of the casino floor.
Similar pushes to end casino smoking are being waged by employees in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Many casino workers have been pushing for years for a total ban on casino smoking, saying the secondhand smoke is making them ill.
The casinos fear a total smoking ban would cost the industry revenue and jobs, although smoking opponents dispute that assertion.