A big win for many in New Jersey - Beginning in January, smoking will be prohibited at our precious parks and beaches. More than a dozen Jersey Shore towns have taken part in the growing list of beaches where it is illegal to smoke. On July 20, Governor Phil Murphy signed this bill into legislation.
"Today, New Jersey is taking action to get the butts off the beach. Cigarette butts that is.”
A sponsor of the bill, Senator Vin Gopal explains that, "We've seen a rise the last few decades in second-hand smoking and this is not someone's home we are talking about. This is a public beach. So it’s in the best interest of everybody to ban smoking."
Lawmakers have been fighting to ban beach smoking for the last four years, but the efforts were put off during the Christie Administration.
Jeff Tittel, the Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club tells us that, "This bill has passed the legislature four times under Governor Chris Christie , where he either vetoed it or blocked it. Now, it passed in the legislature again overwhelmingly under Governor Murphy."
We took a ride to the beaches and asked the people what their opinion was on the issue.
Two residents of Colts Neck, NJ said, "It's a shame if you’re enjoying yourself on a nice day like today and smell second-hand smoke coming over towards you. Plus, the beach is kept so nice here. To walk on the beach and then have cigarette butts, plus the animals, you have birds flying by, it's not good for nature either."
A resident of Princeton, who is a smoker, is still in fan of banning the smoke on the beach.
"I am in favor of them banning smoking everywhere, I would like to not be able to buy a pack of cigarettes anymore because I think that it's unhealthy for people to breathe it in and its important that we respect others space."
While many of these shore towns prohibit smoking on the boardwalk, some do permit smoking in designated areas. This ban also includes vaping- the use of electronic smoking devices.
Senator Gopal says this law would basically allow 15% of the beach for smokers if the municipality chooses to.
Volunteers from Clean Ocean Action picked up more than 29,000 cigarette filters from the sand last year.
Tittel adds, "You can't not step on a cigarette butt if youre barefooted. You cannot sit down somewhere without seeing it all over. People don't understand that it is not just the second-hand smoke. I have been at the beach watching people smoke cigars and it's going to where the little kids are playing in the sand. The impact that they have on the children is too great - they should not be breathing in your smoke."
Some other residents of New Jersey believe this ban is unreasonable.
A resident of Freehold believes that, "The second-hand smoke is not that contagious to everyone else. What is the difference between standing over here or walking over there? We are still smelling the same air."
Another resident from Forked River says, "We call this place “No Jersey.” We're not allowed to play frisbee on the beach, you can't have a drink, not allowed to smoke cigarettes, marijuana will eventually be legal, but you can't smoke it here. Its ridiculous. What are they gonna tax us next on our sunshine?"
Violators of this law would be fined $250 for the initial offense, with fines rising for a second and third infraction. To see the full segment that aired on television, check out this link:
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