A bill that would ban smoking on all of New Jersey's beaches was passed by the General Assembly on Thursday.
The bill, sponsored by Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Angelica Jimenez (D-Hudson, Bergen) would ban smoking in public parks and beaches in New Jersey regardless of whether or not a municipality or county had passed a similar ban.
Many Jersey Shore municipalities such as Belmar and Seaside Park ban smoking, but others, such as Surf City on Long Beach Island have refused to enact bans after public debates on the matter.
"It's clearly in the public interest to expand the law prohibiting
smoking in all enclosed indoor places of public access and workplaces to
all public parks and beaches," said Jimenez. "This is common sense approach to maintain the beauty and pristine
quality of our parks and beaches while also protecting public health.
We're all be better off if we get this done."
The smoking prohibition provided for under the bill would apply to any
state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state or municipal
beach, but would not include parking lots.
The state Department of Environmental Protection would be directed to provide information and assistance to counties and municipalities to support smoke-free environments, and rules and regulations would be adopted by state agencies.
Violators would face fines of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense under the state's Smoke Free Air Act.