Should smoke-free boardwalks be a statewide rule in NJ?
Parks and beaches aren't the only outdoor recreational areas that have gone smoke-free in New Jersey.
Smoking of any kind is getting axed on boardwalks in many New Jersey shore towns, including Asbury Park and Seaside Heights, which made their moves earlier this year.
In the meantime, Garden State lawmakers are attempting to create a statewide prohibition on smoking on boardwalks and at other public outdoor places.
"It's not only about second-hand smoke, but also the damage to the environment, with the cigarette butts and the waste," Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of New Jersey Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, told New Jersey 101.5.
Atlantic City permits smoking on its boardwalk. Over the years, shore towns have acted on their own to limit smoking to certain areas on the boards.
Seaside Heights, for example, had designated areas for smoking on certain ramps. The borough, though, recently moved to a complete ban on smoking — including tobacco, vape products, and marijuana — which falls in line with its smoking ban on the beach.
Asbury Park's boardwalk smoking ban officially launched in early August. Violators will be subject to summonses and fines of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, the city said.
A state law banning smoking at New Jersey beaches and parks took effect in January 2019, but towns have the right to carve out 15% of their beaches as a smoking section.
Since that amendment to the state's Smoke-Free Air Act, select lawmakers have been working to push the concept even further. Bills in the Assembly and Senate, which haven't seen movement since their introduction in late 2018, would prohibit smoking at race track facilities, facilities used for sporting events, ambulatory recreational facilities, amusement parks, recreational areas, marinas, historic sites, burial sites, natural areas, and boardwalks.