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New Jersey casino workers angry at decision to ignore smoking ban proposal

Casino workers in Atlantic City, New Jersey, have vented their anger that state legislature is moving quickly to implement tax breaks in casinos rather than acting on a separate measure to ban smoking. 

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A group of approximately two dozen workers from the city’s nine casinos marched to the state capitol in Trenton to form a protest, following a campaign to rid smoking from gambling halls.

The smoking ban bill has sat with lawmakers in the state for over a year without action. 

Casinos are currently part of an exemption in New Jersey’s public health law, whereby smoking is banned in almost all other indoor public places. The ban was temporarily expanded to include casinos as part of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020, although this was lifted in July of this year. 

A spokesperson for the group, Lamont White of the Borgata Hotel, commented: “Why doesn’t the state of New Jersey care about us? Why is the [legislature] focused on tax cuts for the casinos rather than the health of their workers? Please, don’t leave us behind in the smoke.” 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has previously stated that he will sign a smoking ban into law once the legislature has been passed, although there is still no date set for when this could happen.

Outgoing Senate President Steve Sweeney has previously warned that a smoking ban could reduce business in the gambling industry if passed. 

Of the 29 states that have banned all smoking in enclosed public places, New Jersey is one of 11 that has granted casinos exempt status. 

As for the tax break legislature, this could go to the final voting process as early as next week.

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