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May 03, 2016

Bill would ban smoking at Jersey Shore beaches

Legislation aims to bar secondhand smoke, protect marine life

Legislation that would ban smoking at New Jersey's public beaches and parks has taken another step forward.

The bill, S1734, was released from the state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Monday with amendments; it would bar cigarettes from the beach and impose a $250 fine for first-time offenders.

Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer/Hunterdon, is the bill's primary sponsor. She said the ban would ensure residents can enjoy quality family time at the shore without inhaling secondhand smoke.

“Secondhand smoke not only has serious health implications, cigarette ends that litter parks and beaches are hazardous and unsightly," Turner said in a statement.

According to the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, cigarette butts are often found littered across the state's beaches during annual cleanups, posing a danger to the health of marine life and humans.

“Banning cigarettes on our beaches and in our parks is a no-brainer," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Under the legislation, municipalities could designate up to 15 percent of a local beach as a smoking area.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed similar legislation in 2014. He argued such laws should be decided by local governments, not by a centralized body.