Atlantic City Council Considers Tighter Ban

The Atlantic City Council is again considering a near total casino smoking ban -- an ordinance that would target the oceanfront community's chief industry.

Last year, the nine-member council tried to pass a total smoking ban in the city's 11 gaming establishments. However, due to pressure from the casinos, which pointed to probable revenue and job losses, the council wound up passing a measure banning smoking on 75 percent of casino gambling floors. According to the measure, those wishing to light up and gamble inside casinos would do so in walled-off smoking sections equipped with separate air filtration units.

However, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, no such smoking rooms exist. The state Department of Community Affairs, which approves such projects said, to date, no Atlantic City casino has built such a smoking lounge.

The new ordinance would allow the smoking lounges to continue to exist, but would prohibit them from offering gaming or service from casino employees. The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance tonight.

When the New Jersey statewide smoking ban, called the Clean Indoor Air Act, was passed in January 2006, it exempted gambling floors. The exemption was granted because of the casinos' fears of revenue losses and competition from tribal gaming hot spots in Connecticut and New York State. The exemption has been a bone of contention with advocates of the ban and with other hospitality businesses in the state that came under the umbrella of the law.

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