The Star-Ledger: NJ bill would ban smoking at all public parks and beaches

By Matt Friedman, The Star-Ledger

TRENTON — Lighting up in a park or on the beach would land an offender a big fine under a measure to be considered today by a state Assembly panel.

The Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee plans to take up a bill (A1080) that would apply the state’s law against smoking in indoor public places like restaurants to all public parks and beaches.

"I think it's time that we continue to pass legislation in the interest of good public health," said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), a sponsor. "It reduces litter and reduces fire hazards in those areas. And the exposure to second hand smoke."

Fines would start at $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for every subsequent offense.

“The prohibition of smoking at public parks and beaches would better preserve the natural assets of this State by reducing litter and increasing fire safety in those areas, while lessening exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke among the public,” the bill says.

Tom Hester Jr., a spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, said 14 towns in New Jersey already ban smoking on the beach, and 107 ban smoking in parks. Many towns nationwide have similar bans.

Original Article