Casino workers in New Jersey are protesting the cancellation of the smoking ban law

Man lights a cigarette

Atlantic City casino employees protested lawmakers’ decision to drop a smoking ban bill by lighting cigarettes during a Senate committee meeting. [Image:]

Express your feelings

Casino workers in Atlantic City have been pushing for a safer work environment for several years, calling for a total ban on smoking in arcades. A bill aimed at doing just that made its way to the New Jersey Senate Health Committee.

A vote was scheduled before one of the bill’s main sponsors, Sen. Vince Polistina, gave up the fight Wednesday evening. Seven members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents the interests of some workers, protested the decision not to hold a vote at a meeting on Thursday.

blew smoke on the legislature

During the meeting, they lit cigarettes at the State House and blew smoke at lawmakers before state police escorted them out of the building. One union member exclaimed, “We can’t smoke in your workplace, but you can smoke in ours!”

An ongoing battle

UAW regional director Daniel Vincente told local media that lawmakers had “completely caved” and that workers felt “betrayed by our lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans.” The Facebook page Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects uploaded footage of the protest.

Workers in other states such as Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are also pushing for smoking bans.

Smoking is prohibited in most public spaces in New Jersey. One of the key exceptions is that 25% of a casino’s gaming floor is accessible to smokers and this area does not have to be all in the same location. Workers have complained about health problems they suffer from long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.

Find a middle ground

The Casino Association of New Jersey, which represents the nine casinos in the state, released a statement following the bill’s passage. It was claimed that the legislation in its current form would have a “significant negative impact” on the city’s economy and that many different interest groups were opposed because thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue would be at risk. The group wants to find a compromise that meets the wishes of employees without jeopardizing anything.

I am currently working on a bill that could serve as a focal point

Senator Vince Polistina has revealed that he is currently drafting a bill that could serve as a middle ground between casinos and their dissatisfied workers. It would ban guests from smoking at table games and gradually reduce smoking at slot machines over an 18-month period to give properties enough time to build enclosed spaces. Under the proposal, employees would then volunteer to work in the closed environments.


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