Atlantic City Casino Workers’ Battle for Smoking Ban Faces Setback

The anticipated hearing for the lawsuit filed by Atlantic City casino workers seeking a smoking ban has been postponed, marking a significant setback in their ongoing fight for safer working conditions. Initially scheduled for April 25, the hearing has been delayed by two weeks following a request from the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

Lawsuit Delay Heightens Battle Against Smoking in Atlantic City Casinos

This delay comes amidst a longstanding effort by the Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to challenge the exemption allowing smoking in Atlantic City casinos. Their lawsuit contends that the exemption violates the principle of equal protection under the law and is unconstitutional.

Expressing frustration over the delay, Pete Naccarelli, co-founder of CEASE, highlighted the continued exposure of tens of thousands of casino workers to hazardous secondhand smoke. He emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue, asserting that the current environment not only poses dangers but also infringes upon workers’ constitutional rights.

The postponement of the hearing adds another layer of complexity to an already contentious issue. Workers, represented by the UAW, have long advocated for a smoking ban in casinos, citing concerns about their health and safety. 

Similar campaigns in other states such as Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Virginia have underscored the broader significance of this issue, resonating with workers across the country.

Casinos Maintain Stance Against Smoking Prohibition

Recent financial reports revealing a downturn in physical visits to Atlantic City’s casinos have heightened concerns. However, workers and union leaders assert that implementing a smoking ban is imperative to safeguard the well-being of both employees and customers, viewing it as a crucial step toward addressing the city’s existing challenges.

Earlier this year, Sen. John Burzichelli presented a bill aimed at addressing the grievances of both workers and the casino sector. However, the proposed legislation was heavily skewed in favor of casinos, leading workers to advocate for a comprehensive ban to reject it. 

Despite growing calls for a smoking ban, the Casino Association of New Jersey remains steadfast in its opposition, citing apprehensions regarding its potential impact on competitiveness with neighboring states. Nevertheless, workers are resolute in their pursuit of change through legal means. The quest for improved working conditions has struck a chord across New Jersey, garnering widespread public backing.