TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner and Joseph F. Vitale banning smoking at public parks and beaches cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
The bill, S-1772, would expand New Jersey’s Smoke Free Act to include public beaches and state, county or municipal parks. Violators of the law would be subject to fines of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. The bill was amended in committee to allow municipalities and counties to set aside up to 20 percent of a beach or park as a smoking area.
“As the harmful effects of second-hand smoke become more evident, we need to make sure we do all we can to protect those who chose a healthier lifestyle,” said Turner (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “Families with children are among the biggest users of parks and beaches, and parents should not have to worry about their children inhaling second-hand smoke. Also, eliminating smoking in parks will help reduce forest fires.”
“Smoking in public places where children and families gather is a serious public health threat,” said Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chairman Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This bill echoes the public’s sentiment that people no longer want to be subjected to second-hand smoke in public places.”
The committee passed the bill by an 8-0-1 vote.