Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight
Last week, New Jersey was one step away from adopting what could have been the most comprehensive anti-smoking law nationwide and it’s likely to be at least 18 months before that opportunity arises again.
Advocates of a proposal to ban smoking at all public beaches, parks, and outdoor sites statewide said that while they are pleased Gov. Chris Christie agreed to block cigarette use on state-owned lands, a more comprehensive prohibition would have done much more to protect human health and the environment. But a full ban at county- and community-owned outdoor sites will have to wait for a new governor, they conceded. (Christie’s second term ends in January 2018.)
The proposal – the latest attempt to expand a state law that now prohibits smoking in all public buildings – had bipartisan support in the Legislature and backing from a wide array of health advocates and environmental groups concerned about the impact cigarettes have on the environment and the fire hazard they cause. At least half-dozen states have laws or executive orders that restrict tobacco use in certain outdoor sites, but New Jersey’s proposal may have been alone in extending the ban to all state, county, and local properties, according to the American Lung Association, which tracks anti-smoking laws nationwide.Read more
Michael Symons, NJ101.5
It’s likely that smoking will be banned at state forests and parks, including Island Beach, starting next year, though a veto by Gov. Chris Christie has again blocked a blanket prohibition that would cover all local beaches and parks in New Jersey.
Christie announced Friday night that he had conditionally vetoed a proposed statewide smoking ban at public beaches and parks. But this veto was different than his 2014 veto on the same topic: He said he’d support a smoking ban at state-owned beaches and parks.
“I abhor smoking. But I continue to believe that the state should not impose its will upon our local governments, and instead continue to leave it up to towns and counties whether to ban smoking in their parks and beaches,” Christie said in his veto message.
“State parks and beaches are another matter,” he said. “… In light of the Legislature’s continued interest in this area, I am willing to endorse a measure that bans smoking at state-run parks and beaches, but that does not interfere with parks and beaches within the jurisdiction of local governments.”
New Jersey has 11 state forests and 28 state parks, including one beach, Island Beach State Park, in Ocean County.Read more
Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie agreed Friday night to prohibit smoking at state-owned parks and beaches, but he stopped short of signing into law a broader ban extending to county and local recreational sites.
Christie offered the Democratic-controlled Legislature a compromise rather than vetoing the bill outright as he did two years ago.
Both houses of the Legislature would have to agree to Christie's changes and vote on an amended version for the limited ban to take effect.
"I abhor smoking," Christie said in his conditional veto message. "But I continue to believe that the state should not impose its will upon our local governments."
Some 300 of New Jersey's 565 municipalities and a dozen of its 21 counties have banned smoking in their parks and beaches, the governor noted.
Christie said he didn't agree with the legislation's approach to the issue because it required towns to post no smoking signs at the entrances to all parks and beaches, "and enforce the ban under threat of fines for failing to do so."
"In light of the Legislature's continue interest in this area, I am willing to endorse a measure than bans smoking at state-run parks and beaches, but doesn't interfere with parks and beaches within the jurisdiction of local governments," according to his veto message.Read more
John C. Ensslin, The Record
Governor Christie signed a bill late Friday to save the state’s Diamond Terrapins but vetoed a statewide ban on smoking on New Jersey beaches.
The bill signed designates the colorful terrapins as an endangered non-game species that cannot be legally harvested.
He also issued a conditional veto of a bill that would have banned smoking on New Jersey’s municipal beaches, saying that decision should be left up to individual communities. He had vetoed a similar measure in 2014. But this time as a concession to lawmakers, he agreed to let stand a ban on smoking in state-run parks and beaches.
On the terrapin, Christie signed a measure that had won unanimous approval in both the Assembly and the Senate.
“Today we join other Atlantic coastal states that have taken an important step to prevent this unique species from any further decline toward extinction,” Christie wrote.Read more
New Jersey lawmakers are once again attempting to restrict smoking at public parks and beaches.
A bill that cleared the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee this morning seeks to extend the provisions of the state Smoke Free Air Act.
The legislation would ban cigarette, cigar, pipe, and electronic device smoking in any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state or municipal beach.Read more
Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press
TRENTON - When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was a candidate for president, he spent weeks at a time in other states, where his stump speech frequently included stories about his mother's battle with lung cancer following decades of cigarette smoking that started in her teens.
Yet back home, Christie has dug in against legislation to institute a statewide ban on smoking at public beaches and parks. He vetoed such a bill in 2014. Lawmakers began advancing a reintroduced bill this week but there are few signs that Christie is ready to change his position.Read more
Daniel Nee, Brick Shorebeat
A renewed effort to ban smoking on public beaches in New Jersey has cleared a legislative hurdle, though there is no telling if the ultimate fate of the bill will be different than the last time a ban was proposed.
Sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), the bill would extend the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act to include public parks and beaches. The same law bans smoking in restaurants and office buildings in New Jersey. The bill was formally released Monday morning by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee. In order to become law, the bill would have to be passed by the full Assembly, state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie. The last time the beach smoking ban reached the governor’s desk, he vetoed the legislation.Read more
Associated Press, Asbury Park Press
ATLANTIC CITY – New Jersey lawmakers are trying again to restrict smoking at public beaches and parks.
The state Legislature has reintroduced a bill that was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2014.
It would ban smoking at publicly owned beaches and parks but would enable municipalities to set aside 15 percent of the beach or park as a designated smoking area.
“This just makes sense,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, a Bergen County Democrat.Read more
Editorial Times of Trenton
Trenton's leaders are making it harder for smokers to impose their nasty habit on others. Hurray for them.
Thanks to a policy adopted this month, if you fire up a cigarette in any of the city's parks or recreational areas, you'll be staring at a fine of up to $500. Same deal if you smoke in any city facility or city-owned vehicle.
Does this sound draconian? Not compared with the toll that smoking takes on human lungs.
"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in this country, and everyone is well aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke in this day and age," state Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) said in September.Read more