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NJ Assembly Passes Smoking Ban

NJ Assembly Passes Smoking Ban
The days of lighting up in Garden State bars and restaurants appear to be going up in smoke after the new Jersey Assembly overwhelmingly approved a bill Monday that bans smoking in most indoor public places.

It's a move that has people on both sides of the issue fired up.

"It's a ridiculous proposal. It's just one more erosion of our everyday rights," said Ken Irelan, of Galloway Township, N.J.

"I, personally, would like to see it passed only because I'm not a smoker and I can tell you right now, sitting in here, it's smoky and it's actually bothering me," said Tiffany Chattin, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Under the measure, smoking would still be allowed in gambling areas of Atlantic City's casinos. The bill also exempts cigar bars and tobacco retailers from the ban. Violators would face fines of $250 to $1,000.

The state senate passed the bill with the same exemption last month. The gaming industry says the exemption of casinos is needed to remain competitive with casinos in other states.

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New Jersey would be the eleventh state with such a ban, joining Delaware and New York, among others.

"I believe you'd see a big fall-off in visitation here. I think people would go elsewhere," said Larry Mullin, the Borgota's president and chief executive officer.

"I think it's going to be very bad for business," said Gino Garofalo, owner of Atlantic City Bar and Grill.

Garofalo is among the local restaurant and tavern owners who say it's unfair to permit smoking on casino floors but ban it in their businesses.

"It's a shame that just the casinos are the only that have the smoking. It should be everybody in Atlantic City, or nobody in Atlantic City," Garofalo said.

Acting Gov. Richard Codey has said he intends to sign the bill into law. The ban would then go into effect 90 days later.

"This the day New Jersey takes on and defeats Joe Camel. It's about time," Assemblyman William E. Baroni Jr., R-Mercer and Middlesex counties, said during a spirited debate.

Some lawmakers were swayed by the owners of bars and bowling alleys who have said the law would force many of them to fire employees or close, and will give Atlantic City casinos an advantage.

"It just simply isn't fair," said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union County. He told his colleagues that the measure suggests a new state slogan: "When the chips are down, you can still light up in Atlantic City."


Author: Copyright 2005 by NBC10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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