N.J. Senate set to vote on beach smoking ban

    (L to R): Littoral Society's Tim Dillingham

    (L to R): Littoral Society's Tim Dillingham

    The New Jersey Senate will soon vote on a bill that would ban smoking on beaches, parks, and forests, a state senator announced today at a press conference.

    Speaking on the Belmar boardwalk flanked by Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, Clean Ocean Action’s Cindy Zipf, the Surfrider Foundation’s John Weber, the Littoral Society’s Tim Dillingham, and the American Cancer Society’s Lynn Nowak, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) announced that he will place the bill on the legislative body’s voting agenda for Thursday.

    “We are here to announce the next step in trying to improve public health for the millions of people who come to our beaches every year,” he said. “We are going to move forward on the bill to ban smoking at New Jersey’s beaches as a way to keep dangerous secondhand smoke away from the people who use our beaches – especially the children – and as a means of keeping our beaches clean.”

    The bill, which cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens earlier this month, seeks to extend the provisions of the state Smoke Free Air Act.

    The legislation would ban cigarette, cigar, pipe, and electronic device smoking in any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state or municipal beach.

    However, the measure exempts golf courses and would allow a municipality or county to set aside 15 percent of a beach for a smoking area. It would take effect 180 days after enactment.

    Anyone continuing to smoke after receiving an order to stop will be subject to a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. 

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

    Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, one of the sponsors of the legislation, said the governor’s veto was a blow to public health and the environment.

    “We will definitely try to get the advocates together, get the legislators together, and see if we can have an override,” said Huttle, D-Bergen in 2014. 

    Numerous Jersey Shore communities already prohibit smoking on beaches. 

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    NewsWorks’ Phil Gregory contributed to this report. 

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