Atlantic City Casino Workers Sue New Jersey Over Indoor Smoking Law


  • The lawsuit claims the smoking law violates equal protection and safety laws.
  • The United Auto Workers Region 9 and C.E.A.S.E. are named as plaintiffs.
  • Defendants in the case include Governor Phil Murphy and the NJ health commissioner.

Atlantic City casino employees have taken the next step in their fight against indoor smoking. A new lawsuit was filed on April 5 in Mercer County Superior Court seeking legal action against the state regarding its smoking laws. For almost twenty years, the state has not allowed smoking in the workplace. However, New Jersey casinos fit into a loophole where smoking is allowed to take place, with certain stipulations.

Employees want to see lawmakers forced to act on measures that are currently on the table to deal with the smoking issue.

Adding Urgency to the Fight  

After the lawsuit was filed, proponents of a smoking ban for NJ casinos began to speak out. President and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights Cynthia Hallett stated that the lawsuit adds urgency for legislators in the state to act and finally pass measures that would close the loophole that allows smoking at casinos.

Hallet pointed out that every New Jerseyan deserves to be protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Casino employees deserve the same protections as other workers in the state.

The Casino Employees filed the lawsuit Against Smoking (Harmful) Effects (C.E.A.S.E.) and the United Auto Workers Region 9. The filing names the health commissioner and Governor Phil Murphy as defendants.

Details of the Lawsuit 

In the filing, the proponents of non-smoking casinos accuse the state of violating casino workers' rights to equal protection and safety under the law due to the exemption of the 2006 Smoke-Free Air Act.

The suit claims the Smoke-Free Air Act is an unconstitutional special law. In the filing, the UAW Region 9 represents table game dealers at the Bally’s, Tropicana, and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City.

The C.E.A.S.E. organization was founded by dealers at the Borgata Casino and continues to push for a non-smoking casino work environment. The group was created after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and patrons were allowed to smoke again in casinos.

Both organizations have been pushing for a smoking ban for a few years, and legislators will not make the move regarding legislation. A bill to close the loophole has enough support to pass, and Governor Phil Murphy said he would sign it. However, no movement has been made regarding the bill since its inception.

Pushback from the Casino Industry 

Of course, the casino industry continues to push back regarding a smoking ban. The casinos feel that they will lose patronage if smoking is fully banned, and this would cause a cutback in employment.

Proponents of a smoking ban point out that the casinos did fine during a pandemic when smoking was not allowed. They do not foresee any major issues if the smoking ban is implemented.

To try to compromise, NJ Senator John Burzichelli introduced a bill that would modify existing state laws and limit indoor smoking to 25% or less of the casino floor. The smoking area would need to be 15 feet or more from table games.

The measure would allow smoking in enclosed gaming areas where employees can state they do not want to work in a smoking environment.

The United Auto Workers group is not ready to compromise and finds the bill insulting. Shawn Fain, the UAW President, stated that the group will not compromise regarding workers' health. Any amendment that would allow employees to volunteer in smoking rooms is rejected, as no one should have to risk their health for a paycheck.

We shall see how the casino industry and the state handle the legal filing over the coming weeks. This may be the final push for the state to make legal changes and ban smoking in casinos for good. 

Having started in 2005 as an online writer, Sadonna has focused on the online gambling industry, with a keen knowledge of various subjects. Sadonna has followed the growing US-based gambling industry for decades, covering all the legal changes in the nation as well as information on land-based and online casinos. She enjoys updating fellow gamblers on new games, casino bonuses, and additional information for premium gaming services. In her spare time, Sadonna loves spending time with her family and singing on Smule. Sadonna hopes to continue working in the online gambling industry and building quality articles for players to learn more about the US market.