Whelan has His Head in a Cloud on Smoking Ban

Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis today called on Assemblyman Jim Whelan to stop flip-flopping and get moving on state legislation to extend the smoking ban to casino floors.

?What?s it going to take for Whelan to do his job?? said Davis. ?The outpouring of public sentiment at the recent Atlantic County Council meetings is a clear signal that people in Atlantic County want to end smoking in casinos.?

The Atlantic City Council recently passed an ordinance which fell short of a total ban on smoking on the casino floor. Some members of council, responding to health advocates, expressed a desire for the state to pass a law to ban smoking.

?For most of the last year, Jim Whelan publicly stated he supports a complete smoking ban. Then he flip-flopped on his position earlier last month by stating he agreed with a compromise,? said Davis. ?I don?t think we should compromise the health and welfare of casino workers who are forced to inhale second hand smoke.

?While Assemblyman Whelan is sponsor of a bill to completely ban smoking in casinos, it has gone nowhere since being introduced. Whelan may have put his signature to the bill, but he certainly has not put his heart into it. There is a wide gap between Whelan?s words and his deeds.?

The bill, A-2067, has 12 sponsors and yet has languished in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee since it was introduced on January 26, 2006.

?Whelan?s inability to move his own bill, along with his inaction on the casino shut down last year, shows he is out of touch with the people of Atlantic County,? said Davis. ?Where was Whelan when the Legislature originally exempted casinos from the smoking ban? Where was Whelan when the crowds filled Atlantic City Council chambers pleading for a complete ban? Where is Whelan now when it is clear that that Legislature has to pass a bill to completely ban smoking in the casinos??

Davis also referenced a December 2006 New York Times article which noted that Camden County Democratic boss George Norcross opposes a ban on smoking in casinos.

?I know Whelan has accepted large campaign contributions from Camden County Democrats, and I hope that money is not the reason Whelan has not pushed his bill or any of the other bills banning smoking in casinos,? said Davis. ?At the end of the day, Whelan needs to get his head out of the clouds and do what is right for casino workers who live in his district.?

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