Atlantic City Casino Smoking Controversy: Union Opposition, Senator’s Position
Atlantic City casino workers and opponents of indoor smoking have gathered outside of New Jersey Senator Vince Polistina’s office to protest his change in position regarding smoking in casinos. The group opposes the idea of enclosed smoking rooms in casinos and claims that these areas would only be staffed by “voluntold” employees who face health risks and exposure to secondhand smoke. The controversy has sparked debates between different casino unions and has reached the larger platform of state politics.
The Jan. 19, 2024 rally at Senator Polistina’s office has exposed a divisive issue between two opposing casino unions. While the United Auto Workers (UAW) supports banning smoking in casinos, Unite Here Local 54 does not. The disagreement has highlighted concerns about job security, revenue loss, and healthcare risks due to smoking-related illnesses. Atlantic City’s booming casino industry may face challenges in implementing a full smoking ban, especially as neighboring Pennsylvania permits smoking on up to half of the gaming floors in their casinos.
A photo from the meeting in New Jersey Sen. Vince Polistina’s office. (Image: Press of Atlantic City)
Senator Polistina’s stance on the issue has been met with criticism, as he seemed to be an ally of the casino workers and smoking opponents. However, the senator claims that political changes and the loss of Democratic seats have contributed to his change in position. He says that he still believes in the goal of eliminating tobacco exposure in indoor facilities and that he would vote in favor of a full casino smoking ban. Yet, he has allowed for possible compromises that permit enclosed smoking spaces to be considered.
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