Get the butts off the sand: N.J. (mostly) bans smoking on beaches

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(Photo: Shnnn via Flickr Creative Commons)

(Photo: Shnnn via Flickr Creative Commons)

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

At a press conference Friday morning on the boardwalk in Long Branch, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure into law that significantly limits smoking at public beaches and parks.

“Today New Jersey is taking action to get the butts off the beach — cigarette butts, that is,” Murphy quipped.

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.

Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, lauded the bill signing.

“This is a great day for our beaches and parks! Now going forward, they will no longer be turned into ashtrays! This is a victory for our lungs, communities, clean water and the environment!” he said in a prepared statement.

The state legislature passed the measure last month, which 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. But the bill doesn’t state who is responsible for enforcing the ban.

Smoking bans are already in effect in nearly 20 Jersey Shore towns.

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

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