Make COVID casino smoking ban permanent in NJ, health advocates say

NJ casino patron lights cigarette

A woman lights a cigarette while playing a slot machine at the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Health advocates say New Jersey’s temporary coronavirus-related ban on smoking in Atlantic City casinos should be made permanent, and some state legislators say they’ll push to make that happen.

But the casinos say permanently banning smoking once the pandemic has ended will drive away customers, leading to job losses and lower tax revenue for the state. They say the gambling halls have invested heavily in air filtration equipment that renders the workspaces safe.

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, casinos in 20 states are smoke-free, and three additional states — New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan — have enacted temporary virus-related smoking bans.

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