New Jersey casino smoking bill up in the air

Smoking was attempted to be banned in New Jersey casinos throughout much of 2022, but little progress was made. Despite having the support of the majority of members in both legislative chambers, legislation that would repeal the state’s 2006 law’s exemption of casinos from the requirement for smoke-free workplaces has not even advanced to a committee vote.

Senate President Nicholas Scutari has stated that he shares the worries of casino operators who claim that the restriction will send smoking gamblers to gambling establishments in neighboring Pennsylvania. The argument for a ban is that it poses a health risk, as evidenced by the illnesses that dealers and other employees have acquired from inhaling secondhand smoke while working on the casino floor.

“It’s been over 16 years,” said Nicole Vitola, a co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects. “We have online gaming. The smokers are more than welcome to smoke at home. There’s so many different options at this point. To risk our lives every day on a daily basis is ridiculous, irresponsible.”

WIth the passage of a bill that would ban smoking in the state’s casinos, smoking gamblers would have to resort to an in-depth guide to find the best NJ online casinos, so that they could keep the action going.

Ban could have an impact on state’s programs

A picture containing indoor, pan, several  Description automatically generated

In the upcoming fiscal year, New Jersey anticipates collecting more than $425 million in gambling-related taxes. As required by law, this money will go toward a number of initiatives assisting low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Prescription medications, neighborhood programs, and housing for people with disabilities in state institutions are all supported by taxes on casino earnings.

Casino employees support the new initiative to ban smoking at gambling establishments, but the gambling business is worried that fewer customers will visit the establishments to place bets. Concerned about a separate initiative to restrict the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products, cigarette retailers, wholesalers, and certain law enforcement organizations claim that such a move will result in a significant loss of tax revenue for the state.

In a letter to state lawmakers in May 2022, the New Jersey Association of Area Agencies on Aging, or NJ4A, which represents organizations that assist senior citizens and people with disabilities across all 21 counties in the state, warned them that banning smoking in casinos would have a “devastating impact” on services for those who are most in need. The committee observed that the COVID-19 epidemic and the rising senior population had boosted demand for these services.

“While we applaud your efforts to promote a smoke-free environment and to protect the health of casino guests and employees, we are compelled to inform you of the unintended adverse effect this legislation will have on aging and disability services,” NJ4A advocacy coordinator Eileen Doremus wrote. However, she said, “we do not support or encourage smoking or any behavior that threatens the health and well-being of our residents.”

Senator Joe Vitale dismissed the impact

A person in a suit and tie  Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Senator Joe Vitale referred to it as a “bizarre-world” argument from senior advocates. Sen. Vitale has been fighting to ban smoking in casinos since 2006. He rejected claims made by the casino industry that prohibiting tobacco use would significantly lower gaming revenue and stated that funding would still be provided for programs for senior citizens and those with disabilities. The date for the discussion on the measure he presented to prohibit smoking in casinos has not yet been set.

“I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe,” said Vitale, the longtime chairman of the Senate’s health committee. “They are just trying to scare seniors,” Vitale said of the group’s letter. “And it’s awful.”

In addition, Vitale wants to stop tobacco sales at specific drug stores and outlaw menthol cigarettes, which were excepted from the state’s ban on other flavors in early 2020.

Since Atlantic City became a major center for legal gambling about 50 years ago, New Jersey has relied on casino “sin” taxes, which are assessments made by the government on services or activities deemed harmful. It was increased in 1981 to pay for additional health and transportation services for low-income seniors and disabled citizens after being initially allocated to housing expenditures for these New Jersey residents.

In the $49.5 billion budget that Governor Phil Murphy had proposed for the fiscal year 2023, the casino revenue would be distributed as follows: nearly $370 million would go toward housing severely disabled people, nearly $16 million would go toward community-based senior programs, and just over $5 million would go toward the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled, which is expected to assist more than 125,000 New Jerseyans with the cost of their prescription drugs in 2023.

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 15,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.