Atlantic City to have 7-day smoking ban before repealing it

Atlantic City, New Jersey (AP) — Atlantic City casinos will go smoke-free for seven days before allowing gamblers to light up again.

City Council President William Marsh said Friday the unusual arrangement is necessary because the city can’t legally stop a previously approved smoking ban from taking effect on Wednesday.

„It is the law right now, and it will go into effect on the 15th,“ Marsh said. „We won’t be scrambling around to try to change the date.“

Earlier this week, the council gave preliminary approval to delaying the smoking ban for one year due to the economic crisis and fear of massive casino losses and layoffs.

But it still needs a final vote on Oct. 22, and the ban is set to take effect a week before that.

Thus, the ban will be in effect from Oct. 15 until Oct. 22, when the council is expected to finally approve a 1-year delay. Marsh said council members spent all day Thursday considering options including a special meeting to try to change the date, but were unable to agree.

He predicted the 5-4 vote in favor of delaying the ban would be repeated in two weeks.

But Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of the New Jersey Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP), said she hopes the week of clean air will prove so irresistible to workers and customers that the council vote can be reversed.

„Casinos workers will finally breathe clean air and be in a safe workplace,“ she said. „Once this starts, there’s no turning back.“

Four casinos owned by Harrah’s Entertainment say they will go smoke-free on the gambling floor anyway on Wednesday, and stay that way, offering patrons ventilated smoking lounges.