Back in 2016, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a ban for smoking at state parks. However, Christie struck down part of the law via a veto that would have applied this same ban to counties and municipalities. The decision to ban smoking on these beaches would be left up to the local governments. In March of this year, the town of Longport, which is located just south of Atlantic City decided to pass an ordinance banning smoking on its beaches. The decision by the Longport municipality comes after the towns of Surf City, Spring Lake, Seaside Park, Belmar, Cape May Point, Lavallette, Long Branch, Rockaway, Ocean City, and Point Pleasant Borough have already enacted their beach smoking bans.
However, it appears as though the ban for smoking on the beach is about to get extended in the townships of both Wildwood and North Wildwood. If enacted, this new ordinance would ban smoking on the outdoor boardwalk. This is not the first town in NJ to ban boardwalk smoking. Ocean City banned it back in 2014. All of this comes off the heels of aggressive anti-public smoking campaigns that have eliminated smoking in restaurants, bars, and beaches. The ordinance is set to take effect in 2018, with this summer serving as an educational period for residents and visitors before they can be punished.
North Wildwood Mayor, Patrick Rosenello cited recent studies that show the negative effects that secondhand smoke can have on individuals as the motivation for the expansion of the ban. Enforcing the 2014 Ocean City smoking ban hasn’t been a problem according to Police Captain, Steven Ang. “It’s one of those ordinances where it’s more of an educational ordinance. It’s not one of those ordinances where we’re out there writing tickets.” Captain Ang said that most smokers were unaware
However, the consequences for violating the ban in Wildwood and North Wildwood appear to be strict. In North Wildwood, an offender could face a fine of up to $250. In Wildwood, an offender could be fined up to $1,000 or sentenced up to 90 days in jail. Mayor Rosenello reiterated his emphasis on education during the 2017 Summer months and the city will use the public-address system on the boardwalk to notify the public. The ordinances in both towns are up for a public hearing and final approval at the Wildwood City Commissioners meeting is set for May 24th and the North Wildwood City Council meeting is set for June 7th.
Mayor Rosenello also noted that discarded cigarette butts pose a fire hazard as they often cause small fires in the trash cans located along the boardwalk. While no fire has ever been a serious issue for the city, this ban could help eliminate such a possibility given the nature of the many wooden buildings that line the boardwalk as well as the boardwalk itself. Others, however, feel as though this another target attack against the smoking population. Let us know what you think! Is this just more government overreach or is it justified to keep our air cleaner and patrons safer?