The bill passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature with
strong bipartisan support and was sitting on Chistie's desk on
Friday but the Republican presidential hopeful would not indicate
The legislation would completely prohibit smoking inside all state,
county and municipal parks. Public beaches would also be smoke-free,
though local officials can opt to save 15 percent of beach land as a
designated smoking section.
"This is definitely groundbreaking," said Karen Blumenfeld, the
executive director of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, a
proponent of the New Jersey bill.
"We would be the first state to impose such a wide ban in all public
outdoor spaces and the legislation will continue the trend of New
Jersey being a model for other jurisdictions' anti-smoking
policies," she said.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United
States, and second-hand smoke exposure has been linked to asthma,
lung cancer, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Supporters say the ban will allow New Jersey residents and visitors
to enjoy parks and beaches without the distraction of wafting
cigarette smoke and would drastically reduce litter, fire risks and
children's exposure to smoking.
"No one needs to sit in an ashtray when enjoying the beach," state
Senator Joseph Vitale, a sponsor of the bill, told local media.
Blumenfeld said the measure has a "critical mass" of support in the
state. But some residents said the measure would trample on personal
"I don't think the government needs to be involved," said Bryan
Adamson, 32, of Blairstown. "As a smoker I use common sense and
respect for the environment and those around me," he said.
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Others said it was time to put an end to the outdoors as a last
sanctuary for those who choose to light up.
"Even when I smoked and was on the beach next to a smoker I would be
frustrated because frankly I don't want to be stuck around it if I
don't have to be," said Lauren DiGenova, 26, of Waldwick.
New Jersey has some of the strictest anti-smoking policies in the
country. It was the first state to prohibit smoking in college
dormitories in 2005, Blumenfeld said. A year later, Trenton banned
indoor smoking in bars and restaurants.
More than 200 New Jersey cities, towns and boroughs have already
passed their own restrictions on cigarette and tobacco use in parks
and beaches. The legislation would cover outdoor public spaces
across the state.
Offenders would face a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the
second and $1,000 for each additional citation.
Christie's office would not say where the governor stood on the
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Peter Galloway)
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