ATLANTIC CITY, NEW YORK (AP) – Health advocates say a temporary ban on New Jersey coronavirus smoking in Atlantic City casinos should become permanent, some state lawmakers said on Thursday they would seek to do so.
But casinos say banning smoking forever after the epidemic will drive customers away, leading to job losses and lower tax revenues for the state. They say playgrounds have invested heavily in air purification equipment to ensure workplace safety.
According to the American Non-Smoking Rights Foundation, casinos in 20 states have banned smoking, and three additional states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan – have imposed temporary smoking bans related to the virus.
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of state law banning indoor smoking in Atlantic City casinos, opponents of smoking called for the temporary ban on New Jersey to be lifted permanently.
“Casinos are learning to do business differently,” Bronson Frick, a spokesman for the Non-Smoking Rights Group, told a news conference. “In 2021, we are confident that planes and restaurants should not smoke, although this change has occurred relatively recently.”
He said 1,100 casinos in the United States do not allow smoking. Ne smart is allowed in Nevada, but companies are free to set their own policies, and some forbid it.
“We saw that casinos could operate with smoking bans because they had no other choice,” said Valerie Weinier Hutley of New Jersey.
He said the 2006 law would ban casinos from passing bans on smoking in casinos for many years to come, but would not pass anywhere in the state legislature.
“This time it is definitely different,” he said. “For more than a year we have been fighting the respiratory virus, which has a disproportionate impact on smokers.”
But the New Ersey Casino Association, a trading group representing Atlantic City Casinos, said the permanent ban would hurt the industry.
“Permanent smoking cessation will have long-term financial consequences for the industry and the region,” the group said in a statement. “Quitting smoking altogether will put Atlantic City casinos in a competitive position with other nearby casinos that allow smoking.”
Such a ban would lead to fewer customers, fewer jobs in the casino, and lower levels of tax revenue.
“We also understand that air quality is extremely important for the safety and health of our valued employees, which is why we have invested in state-of-the-art clean air filtration systems,” the group said. “Since the beginning of the epidemic, independent experts have reviewed our air purification systems, confirming their effectiveness in exchanging large quantities of air to keep air quality fresh and clean.”
Nine casinos in Atlantic City continue to operate under limited capacity due to the epidemic. And even before it hit, they were battling growing competition in the Northeast.
Atlantic City tried a partial smoking ban in October 2008 that lasted less than three weeks. Several casinos said they had seen a double-digit drop in revenue during that time. Atlantic City Hilton և Resorts reported that the smoking ban resulted in losses of $ 1 million on two estates.
But Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of Smokefree Policy Global Advisors, said Atlantic City casinos still increased their revenue that month, despite a partial ban.
“And that was the case when the stock market came out of the collapse of the pledged securities market,” he said. “You can not choose to breathe, so the air must be clean and free of carcinogens.
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