The debate whether smoking should be prohibited on the premises of gaming floors in casinos in Atlantic City continues to rage on. However, the camp supporting the measure and seeking the immediate eradication of cigar smoke in casinos may have just suffered a blow.
Atlantic Prevention Resources Foregoes Membership in Greater AC Chamber
Opposition has been mounting and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber protested against the proposed changes that would bar smoking directly in casinos and reduce them to designated areas only. The opposition stems from the fear that the socioeconomic impact on gaming properties, along with the recent difficulties and challenges brought on by COVID-19, would crimp recovery. A report even suggested that 2,500 jobs might be lost as a result.
Because of this the Atlantic Prevention Resources, a public health agency and a member of the pro-ban campaign, has left the Greater AC Chamber. The Atlantic Prevention Resources is a member of the Chamber, which means the pro-ban camp would have limited representation as a result.
However, the AC Chamber remains confident that this is the right thing to do, citing fears that chasing away smokers from casinos would continue to compound the issues faced on the daily by those properties attempting to recover from widespread pandemic shutdowns and limited capacity of operations. Acknowledging the opposition, Greater Atlantic City Chamber president Michael Chait said:
“Recent efforts to impose a permanent smoking ban on Atlantic City casinos should be halted. A smoking ban would have a negative impact on the casino industry, resulting in significant job losses, decline in revenues, which in turn would hurt local businesses and vendors that rely on the industry for their economic livelihood.”
Greater Atlantic City Chamber president Michael Chait
Chait is convinced that should Atlantic City ever go ahead with the ban, it would mean that casinos would start losing business to places such as Pennsylvania and Connecticut where smoking on casino floors is allowed.
Atlantic Prevention Resources Regrets Leaving, But Says Only Acceptable Way
The Atlantic Prevention Resources though decided to cancel its membership the following day after the meet-up and said that it would not be able to support an organization that would prioritize commercial gain over health.
Atlantic Prevention Resources executive director Bob Zlotnick said that the organizaitons valued its membership to the Greater AC Chamber but argued that it would be impossible to continue working with it while the Chamber supported a measure that ultimately impacts health.
Zlotnick said that the organization’s status as a member of the local community effectively barred it from participation in harmful activities. So far, the New Jersey Senate has been gathering some momentum behind a proposal to suspend casino smoking, with state governor Phil Murphy acknowledging that he would support the bill if it ever passed through the senate. The issue is still up in the air with no side taking prevalence in the debate.