Players in Atlantic City’s nine casinos will continue to be able to indulge their cigarette habit after it was announced that the state government is not considering banning the practice. Smoking is currently allowed on 20% of the casino floor, the only indoor public space in the state where people do have the right.
New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney, the second most powerful politician in the state, declared there had been no discussion of the matter in the Garden State’s halls of political power.
At a groundbreaking ceremony for a new supermarket in Atlantic City, Sweeney was reported as saying, “We haven’t even started to talk about, really, in any deep dialogue. The governor, myself and the speaker have to get together and decide which bills we’re going to move forward.”
He finished aimlessly, saying, “We’re not committing to...” before his voice trailed off.
The announcement has been made in the context of some controversy: as the pandemic descended in March 2020, smoking was effectively banned in casinos in an effort to curtail the spreading of the coronavirus, but by July 2021 – when viral caseloads were on the decline after a successful vaccination drive – smoking was back.
It was a return that was met with the opprobrium of anti-smoker campaigners in the state who, as recently as the end of October, were marching in Atlantic City demanding an end to the practice.
Governor Phil Murphy, who was recently re-elected in a very narrow race, has in the past offered tacit support for banning the practice in casinos though seeing that come to pass would require a degree of political will and the summoning of it does not appear to be forthcoming.