smoking-kills.jpgI remember going to Atlantic City casinos with my parents years ago. It wasn’t fun. I’m not much of a gambler, and I really hated being in a fog of smoke.

The more gamblers lost, it seemed, the more they would chain smoke. I couldn’t even imagine being a casino employee and having to breathe in that smoke day in and day out.

Well, many of the workers were sick of it as well, and they’ve been fighting for a long time to get a smoking ban. Yesterday, they won the battle.

The Atlantic City Council unanimously approved the ban after major opposition from casino owners, and the hair-man himself, Donald Trump.

From a Philadelphia Inquirer story:

The Casino Association of New Jersey, which represents the interests of the city’s 11 casinos, declined to comment on the council’s late-afternoon vote.

But at least one casino mogul, Donald J. Trump, whose name is emblazoned on three casinos here, said the full smoking ban would further cripple Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry against new neighboring competition.

“It’s too bad,” Trump said of the vote. “It will put Atlantic City at a competitively negative advantage, and it’s unfortunate.”

The ordinance now goes before Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans to sign.

Evans has stated his “wholehearted support” for the measure, which restricts smoking to nongaming lounges - similar to ones found in many U.S. airports. He has 20 days to sign the bill, which would take effect Oct. 15.

Workers are obviously happy about the decision too. Also from the Inquirer:

Kim Hesse, a dealer at Caesars, gave up smoking in 1988 and decided to lead a healthier life. But, she said, her job got in the way.

“Every time I went to work, it defeated my efforts,” said Hesse, who started dealing at age 18, straight out of high school. “As soon as you walk into the casinos, [the smoke] would hit you like a wall.

“You feel like a human filter - that the casinos have no other filtration except us,” she said.

Like many of her dealer brethren, Hesse became active in the fight for a full smoking ban about two years ago and joined forces with local health organizations, including the American Cancer Society.

Their cause was aided by the United Auto Workers, which stepped in on their behalf in December. The UAW has been trying to unionize all Atlantic City dealers for the last year.

It’s great news for workers no matter what Trump thinks because at least now they will live a bit longer.

I have to disclose something here. My father smoked most of his life until he finally gave into his three little daughters who kept begging him to quit.

After nearly 20 years of not smoking, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer anyway. He had done the damage after a lifetime of smoking. It was too late for him. Well, maybe we were lucky enough to have a few extra, precious years with him because he did quit.

Anyway, smoking devastated our family because we lost the greatest man in the world.

I think Atlantic City gamblers will still make the trek to the casino mecca. Unfortunately, Trump can find solace in a bad economy that typically gets desperate people looking for Lady Luck to shine down on them.

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