There will come a day when cigarette smoking will be completely banned from all public indoor spaces. Period. No exceptions anywhere. But before we get to that point, here in New Jersey, we continue along the evolutionary progression of outlawing smoking by witnessing one more milestone along the way. New Jersey's Smoke Free Air Act went into effect on April 15, 2006. Exactly one year later, Atlantic City's City Council broadened the scope of the ban (the state act gave municipalities the right to pass more restrictive smoking laws). While the state ban granted an exemption to the city's gambling halls, the municipal ban restricted smoking to just 25 percent of the local casinos' gaming floor space.
When the municipal smoking ordinance was passed in the spring, it mandated casinos to erect barriers between smoking and non-smoking areas. These enclosures, according to the ordinance, are to consist of "solid walls or windows, a ceiling and a solid door" and will be complemented by ventilation systems that are "separately exhausted from the non-smoking areas so that the air from the smoking areas is not recirculated to and smoke is not back streamed into such non-smoking areas."
But these physical barriers were not required immediately when the ordinance took effect on April 15. The casinos have until this Saturday, Sept. 15, to submit their plans for these enclosures to the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA). After getting the DCA's approval, casino operators will have 90 days to begin and "expeditiously" complete the construction of these smoking areas.
Smoking will still be allowed -- as has been the case since April 15 -- in only 25 percent of the casino floor space "during the pendency of the design and construction of such exempt area enclosures."
The Tropicana and the four Harrah's Entertainment properties here (Caesars, Bally's, Showboat and Harrah's) will most likely build smoking lounges without gaming tables or slots. They do not plan to accommodate smoking at the tables or slots anywhere else on the casino floor.
Resorts and Hilton will also have smoking lounges, though they plan to build enclosures around some gaming areas on the casino floor as well, according to information provided to the Press of Atlantic City by the regional president for both casino properties, Tony Rodio.
At press time, neither Boyd Gaming (Borgata's parent company) nor Trump Entertainment Resorts (Marina, Plaza and Taj Mahal) had publicized their plans. They, too, are expected to build some form of enclosed space to accommodate smoking patrons.
Congratulations to Mark Barnstorf, the Week One winner of our pro football picks contest. He correctly picked 12 out of 15 winning teams for Sunday and Monday games last week (we won't include Thursday games in our contests this season). Barnstorf wins a $100 gift certificate to Game On! on The Pier at Caesars. More $100 certificates will be up for grabs each week throughout the football season, so log on to www.atlanticcityweekly.com/football and make your picks today.
Speaking of football picks, I thought I had done a respectable job by going 9-6 (excluding Thursday night's Colts-Saints game), but I was bested by Rosenthal Realty's Bernie Cohen who went 11-5. Cohen will now attempt to carry his bragging rights for the "Weekly NFL Predictions" page (see page 33) into next week.
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