As more and more physical casinos are erected around the United States they are being done so without one category of people in mind; smokers. It seems as though wherever casinos are being built, they are being built without any amenities for smokers, and more and more smoking is being banned from casinos altogether. In one part of the country however, the wheels are moving a bit more slowly when it comes to banning smoking inside. This week, Atlantic City casino workers were dealt a setback when voting on a bill that would ban smoking was postponed.
In retaliation, supporters of the smoking ban took to the New Jersey state assembly to voice and, quite literally, air their frustrations. With all of that said, it is important to note that smoking in Atlantic City casinos is a far cry from the free-for-all it once was. Now, many casinos allow smoking in designated areas only. For casino workers who are often subjected to working in these smoking areas, nothing short of a full ban will suffice.
Union Workers Blow Smoke at State Lawmakers
On Thursday, members of the United Auto Workers union descended upon a New Jersey state assembly meeting with the intent of disrupting it. Within moments, the unwelcomed guests lit cigarettes and began blowing the smoke towards the state assemblymen in attendance. In case you were wondering, the UAW union lays claim to the dealers that work at Atlantic City’s table games like blackjack.
The reason behind the workers’ disruptive display was a canceled vote from the night before. Until it was canceled at the last minute, Wednesday night was supposed to play host to a vote on the smoking ban in question. Then, at the final hour, one of the bill’s biggest supporters pulled out and gave up on the bill. This was seen as the casinos exerting their influence on the voting process as the talks quickly shifted from an all-out ban to a reformatting of casino floors. Under this revised plan—which has support from casino owners—smoking would be allowed in designated rooms that are closed off from the rest of the casino. While this will undoubtedly benefit some casino patrons who do not wish to be subjected to smoke, it does little in the way of helping the dealers who will still have to work in a smoky environment.
During the act of protest, one of the smokers made their position clear when they said, “We’re not allowed to smoke in your workplace, but you’re allowed to smoke in ours.” The protestors were quickly removed from the assembly hall without issue, but the smoking ban remains a hot topic in one of the country’s oldest casino destinations.
There is little known about whether the ban will be brought back up for a vote, or if the only option left on the table is one that sees smoking remain in casinos, even if only in special areas. States like Maryland do not allow smoking to take place anywhere within the casino, and the hope on the part of AC dealers is that New Jersey will follow suit.