NJ Group Sues Over Casino Smoking Exclusion - Thursday 9th of March 2006

TRENTON, New Jersey – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "A coalition of proprietors from the hospitality industry sued the state Tuesday, asking a U.S. District Court to overturn a smoking ban that excludes the casino industry.

"'If the casinos weren't excluded, we wouldn't be here,' said attorney Robert Gluck, announcing the lawsuit at Lorenzo's Restaurant, a century-old establishment — whose proprietor is one of the plaintiffs — less than a mile from the Statehouse.

"The 10-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Trenton, alleges that the smoking ban violates state and federal constitutional rights to equal protection by unfairly exempting casino gaming floors. The coalition also plans to seek an injunction to put the smoking ban on hold until the lawsuit is resolved.

"…Former Gov. Richard J. Codey signed the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act into law Jan. 15. The ban applies to all public places with the exception of casino gaming floors and cigar bars.

"Southern New Jersey lawmakers from both parties successfully pushed for an exemption for the casino industry, arguing the ban would damage an industry crucial to the region's economy. The lawsuit calls the exemption 'merely an act of political favoritism.'

"Many casino workers have complained that the exemption reduces them to second-class citizens, unworthy of the same protections as other hospitality industry workers. A lawmaker from the Atlantic City area, Assemblyman Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, has sponsored legislation to remove the casino exemption…"

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