NJ expands public smoking ban next year to beaches and parks

It's the first major anti-smoking act in the last dozen years.

David Madden
July 20, 2018 - 1:57 pm
Cigarette butts on the beach

Daleen Loest/Dreamstime.com

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LONG BRANCH, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that will institute a statewide smoking ban, effective in six months, on public beaches and parks.

It's the first major anti-smoking act in the state since a ban on lighting up in bars and restaurants was approved a dozen years ago. The governor says this move should make life on the beach a lot more tolerable for nonsmokers and animals.

While picking up thousands of discarded used cigarettes is a nuisance, Murphy said, "cigarette butts, in particular, pose a threat to marine wildlife, presenting not only a choking hazard but also capable of leeching deadly toxins."

And Murphy says adding parks to the list lowers the risk of wildfires.

Towns will be responsible for enforcement and will also have the option of setting aside up to 15 percent of a beach or park as a designated smoking area.

As for enforcement, the governor added, "I don't want to add an extra burden onto the lifeguard and take him or her away from their primary mission. I think we should leave that up to the local jurisdiction."

Several shore towns have had their own smoking prohibitions on the beach. This law will make restrictions virtually uniform along the 120-mile state shoreline.

Violators face a $250 fine for the first offense.