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AC Councilman Wants To Play Copy Cat With Casino Smoking Ban

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There is a bizarre stance being taken by Councilman Dennis Mason when it comes to smoking in Atlantic City. Mason believes that AC casinos should protect their residents from the dangers of second hand smoke, but only if neighboring states take the initiative on the matter.

"I'll be happy to support a 100 percent smoking ban if and when casinos in other states enact the same thing," said Mason, "All we want to be on is equal footing."

So this is what the smoking issue has come down to in Atlantic City. The gaming industry is so strong in the city, that Councilman Mason openly admits that he has no real stance on the dangers of second-hand smoke. The only issue Mason is concerned with is a financial one.

Mason, however, is not alone with his lunacy on the smoking issue. The entire City Council is split on whether protecting patrons and workers from second hand smoke is as important as the financial ramifications should the casinos lose some customers.

Last year, the Council voted 5-4 to delay implementation of a smoking ban in casinos and used the economy as their crutch for giving in to the gaming industry. This year, however, the Council will not receive a free pass from workers and AC residents more worried with their health than the casinos' bottom line.

"Last year, it was easy for these people (City Council) to skirt the issue of the horrible dangers that come with second hand smoke," said resident Chris Bentz, "But with economic conditions improving, we will see if they follow through on their original idea of a smoking ban."

The Atlantic City casino industry is in shambles and has lost many customers over the past several years. New casinos in neighboring states are taking AC customers on an almost daily basis, and without the smoking issue to blame, casino owners have been searching for other reasons why their businesses are failing.

"Pretty soon, they (casino owners) are not going to have to worry about any smoking bans," said Walter Villone, "The casinos in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania will continue to drain Atlantic City of their casino industry, and smoking ban or not, the bottom line will continue to bottom out."

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