Cape May Council rejects beach smoking ban

    The city council in Cape May has rejected — for now, at least — a proposed ban smoking on all its beaches, public parks and its oceanfront walkway.

    The City Council in the resort city at New Jersey’s southern tip voted 2-2 Monday night on a ban. The fifth council member was absent from the meeting.

    Opponents of the ban told the council they worried about infringing on people’s personal liberty and about driving business away from the tourist spot.

    But Alan Kantz of Global Advisors on Smoke-free Policy, said he’s hoping the council will reconsider the measure soon. If so, he said, his group can answer those concerns.

    “We still strongly support smoke-free public spaces,” he said.

    The ordinance would have set a minimum penalty of $100 for violators. Maximum penalties for repeat offenders could go as high as $1,250 and up to 90 days in jail. The ordinance states that smoking is a form of air pollution and thus a danger to public health.

    Several other New Jersey beaches already ban or heavily restrict smoking on the sand. Seaside Park bans smoking on the beach and boardwalk, while Belmar restricts it to small corners of the sand. Long Branch and Ocean Grove also have smoke-free beaches, as does Somers Point, which bans smoking on its bay beach. More than 100 New Jersey communities restrict smoking in municipal parks.

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