Assembly Dem Bill to Ban Smoking in Public Parks & Beaches Clears Assembly Committee
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Clinton Calabrese, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Carol Murphy, Angelica Jimenez, Paul Moriarty, Joann Downey, Wayne DeAngelo, Herb Conaway, Jr. M.D., John McKeon, Eric Houghtaling, John Armato and Lisa Swain to prohibit smoking at public parks and beaches was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel. "We all know the harms of smoking, not only for those using tobacco, but for those around them," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "People should be able to enjoy New Jersey's beautiful nature without worrying about their health or dealing with an unpleasant smell." "The effects of smoking are not only detrimental to our health, but our environmental well-being," said Calabrese (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We owe it to our taxpayers to allow them to have the most pleasant and wholesome experience possible at our state parks and beaches." "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the nation, and second-hand smoke exposure has been linked to asthma, lung cancer and stroke," said Vainieri Huttle. "Prohibiting smoking in public parks and beaches reinforces our efforts to protect the public against these health risks, and makes our parks and beaches a safer, more enjoyable experience for New Jersey families." The bill (A-3798) would expand the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, which currently forbids smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, to apply to public parks and beaches throughout the state as well. The smoking ban would apply to any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state, county, or municipal beach. The ban would not apply to any parking lot that is adjacent to, but outside of, the public park or beach; any golf course; or any area of a municipal or county beach, not exceeding 15 percent of the total area, which is designated as a smoking area. "Families should be able to enjoy a day in the park or the beach without the scent of cigarette smoke in the air," said Murphy (D-Burlington). "Making these public spaces smoke-free makes them more enjoyable, helps reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and helps keep these spaces pristine." "There is no denying the serious health risks associated with second-hand smoke. It's not only unpleasant; it is dangerous. Second-hand smoke is especially harmful to young children," said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). "Families should be able to enjoy a day on the beach or at the park without worrying about their children being exposed to the harmful chemicals in second-hand smoke." "Banning smoking in our beaches and parks would help lessen the exposure to second hand smoke, reduce the risk of fires, and reduce litter," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item in the world. Discarded cigarette butts can be ingested by children and wildlife. This ban would help lessen the health and environment impacts of smoking." "People seek the outdoors for fresh air," Downey (D-Monmouth). "Keeping our beaches and parks free from cigarette smoke can help preserve the sanctity of the outdoors." "Breathing in cigarette smoke can quickly ruin a beach outing," DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This can help keep our outdoor public spaces free of pesky cigarette smoke." "There is no upside to tobacco smoke," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "People should be able to unwind on our beaches and parks without cigarette smoke sifting through the air." "No one enjoys cigarette smoke except smokers," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "This helps ensure that people can enjoy these spaces without breathing in second hand smoke." "This can help make our beaches and parks more pleasant for visitors, help reduce cigarette butt litter and increase fire safety in these areas," Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). "Our beaches in particular are popular tourist attractions," said Armato (D-Atlantic). "The more pleasant the experience, the better it is for the economic health of our communities." "These are gathering places. Families should not be subjected to harmful cigarette smoke while trying to relax and enjoy nature," said Swain (D-Bergen/Passaic). The bill was approved by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee. It goes before the full Assembly on June 7.