- Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed interest in a separate, non-COVID-related, casino smoking ban.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - While most COVID-19 restrictions on Atlantic City’s casinos were lifted earlier in the year, the smoking ban remained intact until Sunday.
This ban was enacted as casinos reopened in Atlantic City amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2021.
Given that the pandemic was still raging, spread was generally uncontrolled, and vaccines had not been found yet, the move to reopen casinos came with many restrictions. A ban on smoking indoors was one of them, and it has been one of the longest-lasting vestiges of the pandemic’s effect on casinos in Atlantic City.
Now, the smoking ban has been removed, although New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has expressed interest in making it permanent on health grounds.
Such a process would require more than an emergency declaration, however, and would likely mean a legislative solution.
For now, smokers and vapers can partake of their vices in the confines of the casino once more, although they should be aware of the possibility of legislation changing that in the future.
When asked how interested he was in a permanent smoking ban within casino confines, Murphy was clear that he supported doing so.
“Would I be constructive on legislation....in the future to extend that ban or make it more permanent? I would be very constructive on that,” said Murphy.
New Jersey was put between a rock and a hard place by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in regards to Atlantic City. The gambling industry is a famously huge economic engine for the state, and were, of course, obviously huge potential vectors of COVID-19 transmission.
Moves like the smoking ban came as a way to minimize the risk of casino gambling while allowing the casinos to stay open.
For now, however, smokers can breathe easy, as a legislative solution to this problem seems unlikely, as previous attempts to do so have failed.