Jersey Shore Beach Smoking Ban Bill Has a Gigantic Loophole

There’s just no such thing as an 80-percent smoking ban.


A bill that would ban smoking on New Jersey’s beaches has taken another step closer to becoming a reality, but with a loophole big enough for a Sea Isle ice truck.

The beach smoking ban bill, which was introduced last summer, would prohibit smoking in New Jersey’s parks and beaches. It just passed the state senate, but with an amendment tacked on at the last minute that would allow towns to set up designed smoking areas on up to 20% of their beaches.

“Basically we can now take 20% of our parks and turn them into ash trays undermining the purpose of the bill,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement.

Remember what restaurants in Philadelphia were like before indoor smoking was banned? How smoke-free was your non-smoking section? And that was without a stiff beach wind thrown into the mix.

As I said last year when the bill was first introduced, banning smoking in N.J.’s beaches and parks is a no-brainer.

Cigarettes are the No. 1 type of beach trash found here, and even if smokers are responsible and dispose of their butts, there’s no way to set up a barrier between smoking and non-smoking sections that would prevent someone in the non-smoking section from sucking down second hand smoke, which contains at least 70 known human carcinogens.

Some towns have already banned smoking on their beaches entirely, including Belmar, Seaside, and Sunset Beach in Lower Township. Ocean City, which has designated smoking areas on their boardwalk, is now considering going smoke free there.

Smokers have the right to smoke in their homes, their cars, their personal spaces, but our beaches are not personal space, and our sand is not an ashtray. No one should have the right to throw trash onto the beach or blow cancer-causing smoke in someone else’s face, whether that’s done from one beach chair over, or through a breeze that carries it over from some “smoking section” set up 10 feet away.

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  • NotFromPhilly

    Uhhh … beaches are outside. And doesn’t wind disperse smoke? I hate cigarettes and smoking, but I also hate ridiculous government over-reach.

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  • Tara G.

    I think we are getting a little out of hand here. I’m not one to smoke on the beach, but you’ll never catch me telling someone they can’t smoke outside. That’s a little outrageous.

    Whatever happened to the butt pouches they used to give out in Ocean City 5 or so years ago? I thought that worked well. Kinda tough to blame folks for putting their butts in the sand when proper receptacles aren’t provided.

    • Lisamoon

      Aahhh yes. Nothing like taking a nice deep breath of fresh salt air, only to find your lungs full of thick sharp tobacco smoke. I can’t say what a special experience it is to walk down a city street behind a fellow citizen, puffing away. Smokers need to confine their habit to their personal spaces, their homes and cars, and not share their dangerous, gaseous, effluent with the 81% of the population who do not smoke.

      The onus is NOT on society to adapt to smokers desires for public space or waste receptacles. It is smokers who are insisting on imposing their presence on shared public space. We, as a population owe them nothing.

      • WAAaaah, I’m Offended. Vehicle smoke, street vendors with body odor, watching someone pick up dog poop, ventilation ducts from businesses…Man, you must be Full Time offended. It it a shorter list of what Doesn’t bother/offend You?

      • Gina Klein

        Bravo, Lisamoon! You stated the plight of the nonsmoker perfectly!

      • paul from nc

        If you stay away from the smokers personal space, you;ll be ok.

      • ” Smokers need to confine their habit to their personal spaces, their homes and cars,”

        Lisa, could you list a number of those “personal spaces” you’re speaking about? I’m not sure if I’m familiar with them. If you are saying that smokers only have two personal spaces, their homes and their cars, then I take it that you are against the Antismokers seeking to ban smoking in apartments and condos or in vehicles where nonsmokers might ride as well, either currently or in the future?

        As far as your walking problem goes, I have a hard time understanding why you are deliberately following a smoking “fellow citizen” down a city street closely enough to have your lungs “full of thick sharp tobacco smoke.” Even with the most diligent effort, I think you’d have a hard time doing that for any length of time without the person calling the police on you, so I’d advise you not to do it in the future even if, for some reason, you seem to feel a need to. It would be good to talk to someone about this sort of behavior if you can, since clearly the normal response in such a situation for most people would be to slightly speed up or slow down or walk around the person rather than follow closely behind them sniffing. As I noted at the end of my posting to Sally a few minutes ago, you might want to read the material at the link and consider its implications.

        – MJM

  • Chuck Schwinger

    Ban farting…..farts contain many toxic components, including methane…..or at least a farting section……

    • Johnny Domino

      I’ve got some carbon credits to sell you, just let ‘er rip!

  • Oh PLEASE, enough with your anti-smoking, oh-boy am I offended routine. We pay More taxes than you do for a Legal Product, which funds a lot of programs, yet we are treated like 2nd class citizens. You DON’T have the ‘right’ not to be offended by odors or that junk science claim of 2nd hand smoke. You must live in Terror when a bus drives by you, or a big rig diesel truck. God forbid they’re playing their radio loud with te windows down, Just To Offend YOU.There’s laws against littering, yet people leave All Kinds of trash around, so don’t blame the smokers with that phony trash excuse.
    It’s The Outdoors, you ninny. Next you’ll want people with Body Odor banned, then those offensive tiny speedos. If I HAVE to buy a beach tag, that means You have no more rights than Me. Are YOU the one that caused the signs on the beach ‘No Ball Playing’ No Music’ No Fun? I love when folks become Old Farts and suddenly it’s Those Damn Kids and their Rock n Roll music…And their cigarettes and their running around having fun. Stop it already and at least Try to have some fun. Folks like You are never happy unless they are [trying] to control Others. Get a pool and leave us alone from your Nagging.

    • Sally

      It’s not junk science. Study the research. It is highly compelling. We should all be doing whatever we can to decrease exposure to carcinogens, especially in places where tree are children.

      • Sally, do you take showers in a home where there are children? I’m sure you’re familiar with the danger of airborne asbestos (according to the EPA there is “no known safe level” — just like tobacco smoke), but are you aware that the EPA has set the “acceptable” danger limit at SEVEN MILLION FIBERS PER LITER of tap water?

        They justify that decision on the basis of it really only being linked to lung cancer, not stomach cancer. BUT… every time you take a shower, you are probably releasing MILLIONS of deadly asbestos fibers into the air you and your children are breathing as the tiny, splashing water droplets evaporate into the air around you and release their fibers to burrow down into your (and their) lungs — ready to kill forty years later.

        Sounds crazy, right? And it *is* crazy: just as crazy as worrying about normal diluted encounters with wisps of smoke in modern indoor (not to mention OUTdoor!) settings. *DO* read that ASDS page: I didn’t write it, but I wrote the book it’s idea is based on, and it *is* a serious concern for far too many people I’m afraid.

        – MJM

  • eringobraless

    I smoke on the beach and will continue to smoke on the beach. I take my butts with me and if anyone wants to complain, move. I was there and you saw me smoking when you plopped down next to me so you have no right to complain.

    • You sound like a delightful person!

      • eringobraless

        Oh, I am. This is just getting to be ridiculous. I enjoy smoking, especially when I’m outside.
        How about we ban crying kids from the beach because they are annoying those of us trying to relax. It’s all the same monster.

        • Lisamoon

          Crying kids don’t cause those with chronic respiratory issues to leave the beach for the ER. Cigarette smoke is NOT a minor annoyance or an unpleasant smell that bothers some people, it is a real health issue. There is no earthly reason why the majority of the population should have to accommodate your toxic addiction. Especially when one of the
          reasons people are drawn to the beach is the fresh air.

          • Lisa, care to cite the figures and checkable source for the number of ER visits due to smoke crawling around on beaches? No? Because there aren’t any perhaps? Your citation offers three references regarding “no safe level.” None of them refers to exposure levels outdoors, simply stating the SG’s opinion of what’s in two his Reports. And the thirdmakes no reference at all even to that phrase at all — high school students would get flunked for that sort of “proof.”

            Do you understand the concept and background of the “no safe level” propaganda? Utilizing the same parameters for judgement, you’d have to say there’s “no safe level of daylight exposure (even in the shade)” and be forced to ban outdoor patio dining and windows facing the outdoors in workplaces; you’d have to ban alcoholic drinks in restaurants because of the highly volatile Class A Carcinogen, ethyl alcohol, that bubbles out of them and down the throats of nondrinkers and children present; you’d even have to ban cat owners from workplaces unless they showered and changed clothing upon arrival since ANY level of cat dander allergen can set off a deadly asthma attack.

            The “no safe level” phrase is a propaganda trick designed to fool people like you into supporting total bans. It has no basis in terms of everyday real world experience. You’ve been LIED to, and it should make you ANGRY. Read the .pdf, “The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans” at:


            and feel perfectly free to come back and offer any specific, substantive criticisms of any of the facts, figures, arguments, or sources you find there. I promise I won’t mind, and I’ll try to stop back to respond. You should be angry at the people who are manipulating you — not at smokers.

            – MJM

          • Sally

            It is not propaganda. Do your research. Toxic smoke can send people with lung issues to the ER, not to mention all of us to the cancer ward a few years down the road.

          • Cmkarol345

            The sun exposure from being on the beach is far more likely to five you cancer then someone smoking 10 feet away outdoors will. I don’t like smelling smoke either as an ex smoker… but I’m smart enough to know that the exhaust I’m breathing from sitting in traffic for 2 hours on the way to the beach is far worse than the little bit of smoke I might be inhaling. If your health is so fragile that a smoker outdoors will cause you harm you have no business gon down the shore in the first place.

          • Cmk, see my response to Sally. Also: re vehicle exhaust: I forget the exact figures from research on it I did years and years ago, but I *think* the takeaway figure I came up with was that a single driver driving one one full day (24 hours) would emit the same amount of pollution as a smoker smoking for an entire lifetime. Oh! And a single moderately large airport with 500 commercial passenger jet takeoffs/landings per day puts out the nitrogen oxide pollution of EIGHT AND A HALF BILLION cigarettes! Seriously! And all that polluted air is being scooped up and pumped into the nice smoke-free terminal air systems for all the nice smoke-free passengers to breathe! LOL!

            – MJM

          • Sally, Cmk is correct, and at a rough guess I’d say the threat ratio there is probably on the order of 1,000 times the danger is from the sun, at least in terms of contracting cancer (though malignant melanoma is not as bad as lung carcinoma).

            In terms of doing research, I’ve read all the SG Reports as well as the EPA Report and the CRS evaluation of it — not to mention several thousand research abstracts and hundreds of complete studies.

            The EPA couldn’t find ANY link between even a lifetime of concentrated indoor exposure to the smoke-concentrated work environments of the 1950s and lung cancer when they used normal scientific standards. In order to claim a link they had to use an unjustifiable one-tailed test, lowering their confidence level to 90% instead of the more usual 95 or 98%.

            Even at 90% all they could claim was that after 40 years of daily indoor concentrated work exposure that there might be a 19% increase in lung cancer rates over the base nonsmoking population lifetime rate of about 4 cases in a thousand. That’s one extra case per thousand individuals exposed for a lifetime to FAR more concentrated 1950s-1970s levels of *INDOOR* workplace smoking for 40 hours every week.

            Let’s say you go to the beach 100 times a year, for four hours at a time. That’s about 1/5th the length of time of those workplace exposures. During those visits, you’re unlikely to be within ten feet or so of anyone actively smoking for more than one hour, reducing your exposure time to 1/20th the EPA levels. The concentration in the range of two to ten feet outdoors would likely average less than 1/1,000th of the contained indoor clouds of workplace smoke, giving us an overall exposure of 1/20,000th of the EPA excess risk of 1 per thousand: a total risk of one in 20 million, meaning that, on the average, you’d have to go to that beach for four hours a day, one hundred times a year, and seek out smokers to hang around, and do that for TWENTY MILLION YEARS to get a case of lung cancer forty years later.

            And yet you, in your mind, think that someone smoking around others on a beach is going to send “all of us to the cancer ward a few yaers down the line.” Can you see what the problem is? You’re actually suffering from a type of mental illness, one that can hurt not just you, but family and friends close to you because of the social disruption it causes. There *IS* help out there if you want, from reading/research and general counseling. You might want to check out and see what you think.

            – MJM

          • J. Donia

            Nice MJM.. I’m glad someone had facts on this subject.. And to think people would actually think that smoking outdoors would effect them is crazy… they would have to be standing practically on top of them and breathing in the smoke as the smoker exhaled.. Hey I’m a smoker and I try not to inflict my smoke on others personal space. But when outside people can easily walk way from it.

          • J, you might enjoy reading my (only slightly) satirical analysis of one of the major outdoor smoking studies that has been done. See:

            – MJM

          • eringobraless

            Before I started smoking, Inwas never bothered by others smoking on the beach BECAUSE THE WIND IS BLOWING IT RIGHT AWAY. This is being made a bigger deal than it needs to be because of all the anti smoking campaigns. If you don’t like it, move away from it. The end.

          • LeslieFish

            Oh, indeed. Why should the proper majority have to put up with *any* minority that offends them? Jersey’s beaches used to be segregated because White people were offended by — and claimed that their health was endangered by — the presence of Negroes…and their “unpleasant smell”. Welcome to the niggerhood!

    • Sean D Luddy

      Agreed. I smoke cigars I try to be respectful to others but if im sitting on a bench near the water relaxing dont walk up to me complaining since your sitting next to me. Funny story off subject. I was ok a cruise in the bar called ONYX cigar lounge. Im smoking a cigar. Three people walk up to me asking if I must smoke in this room. I ask lady this is called the cigar lounge. Its for smoking cigars, I am smoking a cigar. And I was called the a hole. Lol

    • LeslieFish

      For that matter, if the maintainers don’t want to clean up ashes and cigarette butts, why don’t they just provide adequate standing ashtrays and garbage cans? I’ve seen the cute trick of not providing adequate trash-disposal, and then denouncing people who have nowhere to dispose of their trash. By the way, drink-cans and food-wrappers — and everybody eats and drinks! — create far more trash than cigarettes do.

  • Kate Walter

    NYC has banned smoking in its parks & beaches. not sure how well it is enforced.

    • PeterK

      Very enforced. NJ will end up messing it up though.

      • Rob Parmley

        Not very enforced at all.

  • High in Sea Isle

    I can still smoke weed on the beach though. Right?

  • Jen says, “Smokers have the right to smoke in their homes, their cars, their personal spaces….”

    What about the apartment smoking bans you’re almost certainly in favor of Jen? Or the bans in cars that might possibly someday have a baby Marine who’s only 20 home on leave who might be in them? And care to describe the other “personal spaces” that you seem to feel so magnanimous about leaving smokers?

    You mention the “stiff ocean breeze” as a problem with beach sections I notice. Somehow that “stiff ocean breeze” doesn’t seem adequate to blow smoke anywhere except directly into the faces of nonsmokers however. Care to explain that as well?

    As for the ashtray beaches, in California several years ago they determined that a good number of the beach butts were CAUSED by the smoking bans in bars, restaurants, and other indoor places in the cities: the butts get dumped on the sidewalk (since providing ashtrays would be “encouraging” smoking) and get washed into the offshore ocean through the storm drains — and then wash up on the beaches. Think you’d be in favor of cleaning up the beaches by letting smokers back into bars and strip clubs? Or is that another blind spot of doublethink for you?

    As for cancer-causing smoke: care to cite even a SNGLE scientific study that actually shows any harm to anyone from normal levels of exposure to outdoor smoking? Do you have even the VAGUEST idea what sort of “threat” you’re babbling about? Even if you accept the EPA Report as your Gold Standard, as most Antismokers normally do, you’re talking about one extra case of lung cancer appearing for every several hundred MILLION peron-years of exposure… maybe even several BILLION. Seriously: look up the figures, do the conversions for estimated concentrations, dilutions and exposure times and see what you get.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  • PeterK

    Yeah, smoking on the beach is as irritating as loud music. Just because you pick up your butts, that does not mean everyone else does.

  • Denise Ruch-Lallier

    I am a smoker, and I willingly comply with all bans. However, this one seems ridiculous. People at the beach (or anywhere else outdoors) are exposed to toxic fumes from cars, diesel trucks and machinery all the time, and at much higher levels than those created by a smoker sitting nearby on a beach. People drive to the beach, happily contributing to and inhaling fumes, yet a single cigarette sighting sends them into choking spasms. I think smokers are an easy target. Perhaps everyone should take a look at their own part in the air pollution problem.

  • paul from nc

    Yep, It’s a no brainer. You need to have no brain to support this.

  • paul from nc

    If you don’t want people smoking outside, move to California. The beach is not YOUR personal space either, others have as much right to it as you do.
    The wind at the beach will disperse the smoke quickly and as long as the smokers do not leave the trash, they should be allowed to be there.
    Another over reach of government.
    Do you ever wonder how we made it to adulthood without the current government intervention?

  • Shay

    Im a smoker but i agree with this ban! I hate smoking around people and in public. I stay away from people when i do. Its gross i no! I must quit!

  • jquin

    What if my house was on the beach and I smoked on my deck and the wind blew smoke in your face?

  • Jo

    So let’s increase the beach badge fees to cover the cost of cleaning up after the people who insist on smoking on the beach.

  • Rosie 890

    The most beach debris in the latest beach clean ups were bottle caps, not cigarette butts.

  • Nancy M. Reis

    I hope the ban goes through, I am an ex-smoker and when I went to the beach, there are so many slobs that just put their cigs out in the sand and leave them for the seagulls to grab and then get nicotine poisoning. Yeah ban away!

    • Nancy, you say, “Yeah, ban away!”

      Did you miss my posting below? It’s people like you that may be causing the problem:

      “As for the ashtray beaches, in California several years ago they determined that a good number of the beach butts were CAUSED by the smoking bans in bars, restaurants, and other indoor places in the cities: the butts get dumped on the sidewalk (since providing ashtrays would be “encouraging” smoking) and get washed into the offshore ocean through the storm drains — and then wash up on the beaches. Think you’d be in favor of cleaning up the beaches by letting smokers back into bars and strip clubs? Or is that another blind spot of doublethink for you?”

      – MJM

  • Guest

    yeah, Just like all the smokey casinos ! Big deal the only that did was remove the ash trays from the non-smoking areas but not the smoke or the smokers!

  • Rob Parmley

    This is all utter bullshit. I quit smoking so I dont count on the smokers side, I count on the side of reason. To say that second hand smoke is a health risk outside and that all smoking at beaches must be banned is hypocritical as this law is being pushed by people who drive up in huge SUVs that dump more carbon into the atmosphere in a single day than a heavy smoker will over a lifetime. So until everything that pollutes is banned (good luck with that!) lay off the outdoor smokers. I will go one further that for the irresponsible people who leave butts behind up the fine on littering lto the likes of NC where littering is a $2K fine. You don’t see butts or trash everywhere there like you do in this nasty ass state!

  • Soccer

    95% of smokers are the most selfish people on the planet

  • LeslieFish

    Accurate — not slanted — surveys reveal that about 20% of all Americans smoke, and that includes New Jerseyites. The parks and beaches are maintained with tax money that all adults pay, and that includes smokers. It’s only just that 20% of the parks and beaches paid for with their taxes should accommodate smokers. This is a fine example of how self-righteousness tramples democracy.

  • Johnny Domino

    Start a bounty system, every butt turned in is a nickel payable by cigarette retailers, like bottles used to be. Bet the beaches are cleaned in no time, either by kids, homeless or the smokers themselves.