Push to punish smokers at N.J. beaches and parks picks up steam

 

An effort to ban smoking at all public beaches and parks in New Jersey continued to amass support among state lawmakers on Monday.

The state Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee approved legislation 7-0 that would levy fines on anyone caught lighting up in most of the public spaces.

Smoking is already forbidden on state beaches and state-owned park under a bill signed by former Gov. Chris Christie. And while some communities have adopted their own smoking bans in local public spaces, this bill would create a uniform ban.

 

Christie backs smoking ban in state beaches

Christie backs smoking ban in state beaches

The governor vetoed part of the smoking ban that affects local beaches and municipal parks.

 

Violators would be subject to a $250 fine on their first offense, $500 on their second, and $1,000 each on subsequent offenses.

Clean Ocean Action, which collects litter along the Atlantic coast, reported finding 29,000 cigarette butts in 2017, 1,155 lighters and 1,870 cigarette packages.

"Cigarettes are a major source of litter and pollution, while also being a threat to public safety," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement. "A complete ban will not only benefit public health, but our environment. We are spending all this money rebuilding our beaches and now we should not turn them into ashtrays."

The legislation exempts parking lots adjacent to parks and beaches and areas designated for smoking.

The full Assembly is expected to vote on the measure June 7.

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