May 26, 2016 11:59 PM By David Madden CBS Philadelphia
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey state legislators have approved a plan that would, if approved by Governor Chris Christie, ban smoking on all public beaches.
There’s no guarantee that’ll happen, though.
Christie himself is not a fan of smoking, but he vetoed an earlier attempt to impose a statewide prohibition in parks and on beaches.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, a proponent of this latest plan, hopes the Governor will approve it.
“It’s a health issue. It’s a fairness issue,” Sweeney told KYW Newsradio. “It’s a way of boosting tourism. I really do believe it would help our tourism industry. It’s the right thing to do.”
Sweeney remembers how people predicted doom and gloom when smoking was banned in restaurants. Now, those places are doing better than before. He thinks that can be replicated alone the beach, although towns would have an option of setting up special smoking sections when the ban would take effect six months later.
For whatever reason, when people smoke down there, they think the beach is an ash tray,” Sweeney said. “You know, it’s sand. So you just throw the butt in the sand. So to improve the quality of a person’s time at one of our major industries, which is tourism, it just makes all the sense in the world.”
New Jersey Assembly Democrat Valerie Huttle helped sponsor the bill. She spoke with Eyewitness News shortly after the ban was approved. “Second-hand smoke is an enormous health risk to non-smokers,” she said.
The reaction is mixed and some support the idea of the smoking ban. “You don’t have to worry about your kids, the ashes, the cigarettes they throw on the beach,” Mary Bennett told Eyewitness News. “I think it would be nice fresh air. Great for the area.”
Should Christie veto it again, Sweeney suggests it could become an issue in next year’s campaign to select a new Governor.