New Jersey is One Step Closer to Having Smoke-Free Beaches

Sierra Club President: bill is 'gutted' in its current form

The beach in Surf City, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The beach in Surf City, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A bill that would ban smoking on New Jersey public beaches and parks cleared a key hurdle Tuesday when it was released from a state Senate committee.

Having already passed the General Assembly, the bill now needs just one vote in the full Senate before being sent to Gov. Chris Christie's desk.

A smoking ban for beaches and parks would include those that are owned by the state, counties or municipalities, meaning most public beaches. The bill, as cleared on Tuesday, calls for an amendment to the state's Smoke Free Air Act that would levy fines of $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses on violators. Municipalities would – at their discretion – be able to set aside 20 percent of parks or beaches where smoking be allowed.

That portion of the bill was added to the Senate version, prompting opposition from Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, who said the bill was "gutted" in its current form.

"Basically, we can now take 20 percent of our parks and turn them into ash trays undermining the purpose of the bill," he said, in a statement. "Instead we want a complete ban on cigarettes at our parks and beaches. Having smoke free beaches will encourage tourism, while protecting both health and the environment. Cigarettes are a major source of litter and pollution, while also being a threat to public safety. A complete ban will not only benefit public health, but our environment. This amendment is a loophole big enough to throw our ash tray through, while also turning our parks and beaches into ash trays."

As an example, Tittel's group said Ramapo Reserve in North Jersey could have 600 acres worth of smoking territory under the 20 percent provision.

Still, the committee passed the bill in an 8-0 vote with one abstention. Sponsors cited health risks surrounding secondhand smoke as one of the primary motivators of getting the bill enacted.

"As the harmful effects of second-hand smoke become more evident, we need to make sure we do all we can to protect those who chose a healthier lifestyle," Sen. Shirley Turner, a sponsor, told NJ.com.

The bill will now head to the full Senate for a vote should Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Camden) opt to post it.
Andy Pat May 21, 2014 at 02:15 PM
Egg shells are all natural and bio-degradable. Little harm to the environment. Unsightly, for sure. The filters from cigarettes are made from something that appears to last a long time. While I would never litter, if I am out somewhere and eat an apple I might look for a convenient place to toss the core.
Brandy the Dog May 21, 2014 at 02:46 PM
Don't panic it's organic
JB May 21, 2014 at 06:02 PM
I find all of this getting completely out of hand. As long as people clean up after themselves (all kinds of litter) this should be a non issue. Regardless of your choice to smoke or to not smoke. That is a choice, a legal one at that. Smokers have easily been targeted by the public over the years and I agree that smoking inside was a progressive choice to better the health of everyone I find it hard to believe that smoke inhaled outdoors is dangerous. What about all of the the other fumes or pollution that can be inhaled by people? Will there be a ban on those as well? I think people should think closely about the type of policing our government is enforcing and the amount of rights they continue to take away every year. Just remember it is not going to stop with smoking in public places. What will happen once they have banned that completely they will move onto something else. And it may be something that you choose to do and do not want to have to have policed by the government. You may be making things better in one aspect by supporting this ban but you are slowly giving up more of your rights to have the freedom of choice. And freedom of choice is what this great country was founded upon. If we keep this up we may not recognize the country we live one day.
oceanbuddha May 21, 2014 at 07:27 PM
Smoking should only be allowed in private residences. I have witnessed first hand many smokers tossing cigarettes out the windows of moving cars. I have had to inhale the smoke of inconsiderate smokers, not to mention that I have had my children with me. Smoking slowly kills. Stop smoking, save yourself and a whole lot of money. Keep smoking the govt is laughing all the way to the bank with taxing cigarettes.
Jim Cashin May 21, 2014 at 09:44 PM
How about Free Beaches? oops


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