What to Know
- New Jersey has officially banned smoking at public beaches and parks
- Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Friday prohibiting smoking at public beaches and parks in the state
- Penalties can be up to $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense
You might want to think twice before lighting up a cigarette while relaxing down the shore as New Jersey has officially banned smoking at public beaches and parks.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Friday prohibiting smoking at public beaches and parks in the state.
The newly signed legislation updates the “New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006” and authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), towns and counties to educate the public about the smoking ban and associated penalties, which can be $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
The ban will go into effect 180 days after the law is enacted.
“The Jersey Shore has always been one of our state’s – and nation’s – great natural treasures, and a place for families to enjoy,” Murphy said. “Signing this legislation demonstrates my firm commitment to protecting our environment and public health while preserving the quality and cleanliness of our public beaches and park areas.”
The poll which was released last month found the majority of state residents supported a proposed ban to smoking and vaping on public beaches.
Tobacco use is a significant public health threat and a high-risk factor for many diseases, including lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, stroke and asthma, state officials say, adding that the use of electronic smoking devices may also pose a health risk due to their smoke vapors.
Authorities also say that exposure to second-hand smoke is a health hazard for a majority of the non-smoking public and can lead to illness and premature death.
According to the American Lung Association, more than 480,000 people die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
In New Jersey, tobacco use takes the lives of nearly 12,000 residents every year, according to the state.
The governor’s office also contends that smoking is a contributor to the pollution found in public spaces.
According to results of the 2017 beach sweep by Clean Ocean Action, the litter collected by volunteers last year contained more than 29,000 cigarette butts, more than 1,150 lighters, nearly 1,900 empty cigarette packs and 7,172 cigar tips.
Authorities further say that cigarette butts threaten marine wildlife as a choking hazard and are capable of leeching deadly toxins.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, senators Vin Gopal and Bob Smith and assemblymembers Vincent Mazzeo, Clinton Calabrese, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Paul Moriarty co-sponsored the bill.