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Smoke-free casinos may have to wait

Publication Date: 6/21/2007
  • Author:PETE McALEER PETE McALEER
  • Publication:Press of Atlantic City

Legislation that would ban smoking entirely on casino floors is expected to advance today in the Senate, but the lower house appears ready to break for the summer without taking a vote.
Casinos won an exemption when New Jersey adopted a statewide smoking ban in April 2006. An ordinance later adopted by Atlantic City Council — after negotiations with the casino industry — forced casinos to make 75 percent of their gaming floors smoke-free.

The agreement did not sit well with anti-smoking advocates who pushed for today's vote, arguing that casino workers are still forced to choose between their jobs and their health.

Assemblyman James Whelan, D-Atlantic, who sponsors legislation that would make casinos smoke-free, said Wednesday he does not see the bill getting posted for a vote in the lower house anytime soon...

Anti-smoking advocates plan to keep up the pressure and are hopeful the Assembly will vote on the legislation shortly after the election in November. They note that Colorado initially exempted casinos from its smoking ban but went back and closed the loophole this year. Illinois included its eight riverboat casinos in a statewide smoking ban.