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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