Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Atlantic City Officials To Consider Smoking Ban This Week

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An Atlantic City councilman said he will introduce a measure at tomorrow's city council meeting that would ban smoking entirely at Atlantic City's 11 casinos.

Last year, a law was passed that banned smoking in 75% of Atlantic City's gaming floors. The city council attempted then to ban smoking entirely but the casino industry estimated it would lose 20% under a total ban.

"It was somewhat self-executing in that the one-year anniversary is almost here and little has been done to comply with the partial ban," Councilman Bruce Ward said Friday.

Under the partial-smoking ban law passed last year, the casinos must build enclosed smoking rooms equipped with separate ventilation systems that would keep smoke from drifting to other areas of the casino. However, construction on the smoking rooms has seen delays. The state Department of Community Affairs had not yet approved any of the casinos to begin building the smoking lounges.

The casinos have been slow in responding to the department's questions about the smoking rooms, according to the DCA. Casinos fear that a total smoking ban may be imposed acted after they build the smoking rooms, costing millions of dollars.

Mark Juliano, chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., told the Philadelphia Inquirer "If they're going to do it, they should do it now. It wouldn't make sense if they do it after we build the enclosures."

"It doesn't surprise me," Juliano said of the proposed total ban. "I do believe that eventually casinos all over will be smoke-free. I don't think anybody thought that the smoking enclosures would be a permanent exemption."