TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon that would allow municipalities to treat a violation of local public smoking laws as a civil offense instead of a criminal one cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
This bill, S-321, would permit a municipality to adopt an ordinance establishing a civil penalty of up to $200 for smoking in a public place where it is prohibited by the municipality or the owner or person responsible for the operation of a public place. The civil penalty would serve as an alternative to the criminal penalty of disorderly persons that a municipality may charge under current law.
“Criminal penalties are costly and can create problems for those who break the law. While municipalities are serious about curbing smoking in public places, many have said that they prefer a civil fine rather than criminal charges, which can have unintended consequences,” said Gordon (D-Bergen, Passaic).
The bill cleared the committee by a 9-0 vote