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Panel discussion on whether Atlantic City should ban smoking in casinos is canceled
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Whether casinos should continue to allow smoking is a contentious issue in numerous states, particularly New Jersey, where the governor and more than half the state Legislature supports a bill to ban indoor smoking in gambling halls.
A now-cancelled discussion between a casino executive and smoking foes was shaping up to be a highlight of a major gambling conference later this month in Atlantic City, and would've been the first detailed public airing of the issue.
But the casino executive, Resorts Casino President Mark Giannantonio — who has since become head of the Atlantic City casinos’ trade association, which vehemently opposes a smoking ban — pulled out of the session.
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It's the latest indication of how thorny this dispute has become, and how difficult it will be to find a resolution that will satisfy everyone.
Hundreds of Atlantic City's casino workers have been pushing for two years for an indoor smoking ban, saying secondhand smoke harms their health and that of casino customers. They note that casinos are the only exception to New Jersey’s clean air law, which bans smoking from other indoor workplaces. The casinos, however, predict that smoking customers will abandon the casinos if there's a ban, causing lost jobs and plunging revenue as casinos still struggle to return to pre-pandemic performance levels.
A bill that would end smoking in Atlantic City’s nine casinos is pending in the state Legislature, where it enjoys broad bipartisan support, but has remained stalled. No vote has yet been scheduled on it. An identical bill died in last year’s session, even though Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will sign it if it passes.