Ban Smoking in New Jersey Casinos?

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The nation may be in a post-partisan mood but there’s no clearing the air on some issues.  According to the latest poll results from Fairleigh Dickinson University, two of five New Jersey residents (39%) say smoking should be banned entirely in Atlantic City’s casinos, but nearly half (47%) prefer just to limit smoking to certain areas. Another 8% say smoking should be allowed anywhere, and 5% are unsure.

"This is a bitterly contested issue,” said Donald Hoover, who specializes in the casino industry and teaches in the university’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “But the survey finds that the partial smoking ban currently in place is preferred by New Jersey residents and gamblers.”

Obama enthusiasts might be glad to know smoking in casinos is not a partisan or ideological issue. There are no significant differences between liberals and conservatives, nor are there differences between Democrats and Republicans.

There are differences in age.  Younger folks are more likely to have a live-and-let-smoke attitude and less likely to prefer a total ban. In the 30-and-under crowd, 65% say limit smoking to certain areas, another 14% say allow it anywhere, and just 19% say ban it altogether. Likewise there are differences among those with varying education levels: 30% of those with high school education favor a total ban, but 47% of those with graduate education favor the ban.

And what about the folks who actually go to Atlantic City casinos?  Their preferences are not much different from those of the rest of the population: 39% of those who went last year or plan to go this year favor a ban, 50% prefer limiting smoking to certain areas, 7% say it should be allowed anywhere, and 4% are not sure.

The big diff may be in the high-rollers. Three in five (59%) of those who earn over $150,000 favor a complete ban while just 28% think smoking should be limited. By contrast, only a third (32%) of those who earn less than $50,000 prefer a total ban, while 52% say it should be limited to certain areas.

Currently, there is a partial smoking ban at Atlantic City’s casinos in which a minimum 75% of the gaming floor must be designated non-smoking. A total smoking ban was scheduled to take effect in October of last year, but the city council decided to delay the total ban. "One concern is that a total smoking ban will have a negative impact on revenues,” said Hoover. “Increased competition from surrounding states and the downturn in the national economy have already had a major negative impact on New Jersey’s gaming revenues.”

Peter Woolley, the poll’s director, added that “people with more education and higher incomes are less likely to smoke and more likely to take into account the risks of smoking and of second-hand smoke.” He said, “Smoking is itself a kind of gamble, so maybe it belongs in casinos.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 841 adults statewide was conducted by telephone from Jan. 5, 2009 through Jan. 11, 2009, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.



Contacts: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239; Donald Hoover 609.432.7297

For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.

Copyright © 2009, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 090128]