Butt out: N.J. beach, park smoking ban goes into effect

(Big Stock photo)

(Big Stock photo)

New Jersey beaches and state parks are now mostly smoke-free.

In July, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure into law that significantly limits smoking and vaping at public beaches and parks.

The law, which went into effect Wednesday, permits a designated smoking area of 15 percent at beaches. Smoking is still permitted in parking lots.

Fines are $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second, and $1,000 for all subsequent violations.

The law doesn’t state who is responsible for enforcing the ban. Senate President Steve Sweeney has previously said lifeguards or local police could undertake that duty.

Smoking bans were already in effect in nearly 20 Jersey Shore towns when Murphy signed the legislation.

The governor said secondhand smoke isn’t the only concern for beachgoers. In 2017, Clean Ocean Action volunteers found 29,000 cigarette butts, 7,172 cigar tips, 1,900 empty cigarette packs, and 1,150 lighters.

In Sept. 2014, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill, saying smoking prohibitions should be enacted at the local level.

A 2018 Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll found that 75 percent of New Jersey residents oppose beach smoking.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.