Atlantic City Casino Smoking Ban Debated

Newark, New Jersey – Atlantic City’s casinos should be completely smoke-free, but a full ban should wait until it’s clear how a partial one enacted last week will work, Gov. Jon S. Corzine said Monday.

Up to a quarter of casino floors are to be walled off and set aside as smoking areas by April 15 under the city regulation.

„Ideally, I think we ought to have completely smoke-free casino floors,“ Corzine said after an unrelated news conference in Newark. „I’d like to see a complete ban. But this is a very positive step forward.“

The city council had been poised to ban smoking throughout casino floors, which would have made New Jersey the largest gambling destination in the nation to do so. But it backed down under fierce opposition from the casino industry.

The legislature also exempted the casinos from a state ban on smoking in public places, which took effect last April, fearing it would hurt business in a vital component of New Jersey’s tourism economy.

Under the partial ban, smoking areas must be separated by floor-to ceiling walls and include systems to suck smoke out of the building. The penalty for smoking outside the areas would be USD 25 for a first offense.

„Let’s see how that works out,“ said Corzine, who acknowledged there has been much disagreement in the Legislature about whether a total smoking ban could be imposed.

Jennifer Guillermain, a supervisor at Caesars Atlantic City, said she didn’t think the smoking-section plan wouldn’t work. „You’re not going to get people to want to work in those rooms,“ Guillermain said.

The casino industry has said it will not challenge the smoking-area restrictions in court.

Joseph Corbo, president of the Casino Industry of New Jersey, did not return a message seeking comment Monday. He has said the smoking sections are acceptable because they impose a lesser economic hardship than a total smoking ban.