By Skip Charles
A measure that would prohibit smoking in Atlantic City’s casinos moved ahead after three years of going nowhere, heartening casino workers who say they are literally sick and tired of having smoke blown in their faces at work.
The New Jersey Senate health committee approved a long-delayed bill to impose a smoking ban in Atlantic City’s nine casinos.
It was the first step in a long chain of necessary approvals, and it came as the movement by many casino workers to implement a ban entered its fourth year.
The vote also touched off a confrontation among casino workers outside the state Capitol afterward, with supporters of a smoking ban and opponents of the proposal screaming at one another on the sidewalk before being separated by their respective camps Casino workers who favor the ban were elated to finally have it voted on after years of inertia.
“We feel like we cracked the egg,” said Nicola Vitola, a Borgata dealer and a leader of the movement to ban casino smoking.
Smoking is permitted on 25% of the casino floor in Atlantic City. But those spaces are not contiguous, and smoke wafts into most areas of the gambling floor, regardless of their designation.
Casinos were specifically exempted from New Jersey’s 2006 law that banned smoking in virtually all other workplaces.