Some beaches in New Jersey can draw throngs of 1.5 million people in a single day, and if one piece of legislation gets through, not a single one of those people will be able to smoke on the beach.
There has been an ongoing battle about banning smoking at these densely packed beaches. After New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill banning smoking in all beaches and public parks in the state, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill and instead offered a ban on only state-owned beaches and parks.
“In terms of a bill, it doesn’t have an internal logic to it,” said Peter Hartney, Surf City Councilman, who supported Christie’s veto. “There’s lots of problems with it.”
The SandPaper reports Gov. Christie recently agreed to extended provisions to the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” to ban smoking inside public places and workplaces, but did not wish to include the state’s beaches and public parks in the bill.
“I abhor smoking, but I continue to believe that the state should not impose its will upon our local governments,” Christie stated in the veto, “and instead continue to leave it up to towns and counties whether to ban smoking in their parks and beaches.”
If the bill had been fully approved, the Legislature would have placed a ban on cigar, pipe, cigarette and electronic smoking in any start park, forest or beach. Anyone who would’ve been caught breaking the new smoking law would’ve been required to pay a fine of around $250 for their first offense, $500 for their second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
According to Philly.com, many state officials were in favor of the original bill and are against Gov. Christie’s veto.
“I was hoping that the outcome would be different this session,” said assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, who was a primary sponsor of the bill. “A uniform policy makes much more sense and, quite frankly, it protects the residents more equally. I don’t think we’ll let this one go.”
“This is a health issue, and it’s an important one,” said New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel. “What our governor did was just wrong. We shouldn’t be OK with turning our beaches into ashtrays.”