July 16, 2016

Christie conditionally vetoes smoking ban again for parks and beaches

But he leaves the door open to impose a blanket ban at all state-run properties

Just after getting passed over as Donald Trump’s vice presidential Republican running mate Friday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got back to work. He conditionally vetoed a ban on smoking at all public beaches and in parks in 2014.

But the governor, who had previously vetoed a similar law, now says he's willing to support a ban on smoking at all state-run properties.

His rationale both times is that a statewide ban is overreaching.

In his veto message, he said towns and counties should decide if they want to prohibit smoking on grounds they maintain.

Related: Christie opts not to raise New Jersey's smoking age to 21

More than 240 municipalities and 12 counties have regulations banning smoking in municipal and county parks. Dozens of towns have also banned lighting up at beaches.

"I abhor smoking,” Christie wrote in his veto message.

“But I continue to believe that the state should not impose its will upon our local governments,” Christie explained.

It's unclear if a revised bill will get considered; the bills sponsors have made no comments.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement Saturday that Christie vetoed the bill because of his ambitions in national politics.

“By vetoing this legislation the Governor sided with the tobacco lobby over protecting our environment and public health," Tittel said. 

"Instead of trying to protect our parks and health he is turning them into ash tray."