TRENTON (CBS/AP) — Smokers will no longer be able to light up on a public beach at the Jersey Shore. Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation on Friday banning smoking at public beaches and parks.
Murphy was in Long Branch to sign the measure that was passed by the state Legislature last month.
“The Jersey Shore has always been one of our state’s – and nation’s – great natural treasures, and a place for families to enjoy,” said Murphy. “Signing this legislation demonstrates my firm commitment to protecting our environment and public health while preserving the quality and cleanliness of our public beaches and park areas.”
Like previous versions of the bill that have failed, the bill doesn’t specify who would be responsible for enforcing it: lifeguards, police or someone else.
The bill allows for designated smoking areas of 15 percent of a beach. Smokers also would be allowed to light up in parking lots.
Fines would start at $250 for a first offense and go up to $1,000 for a third offense.
“Its time has come,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, a southern New Jersey Democrat. “We know the ill-effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.”
The state Department of Environmental Protection is to “provide assistance” to local communities “within the limits of resources available to the department for this purpose.”
Nationwide, more than 300 coastal communities have banned smoking on their beaches, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. At the Jersey shore, some of the state’s most popular beaches already prohibit smoking including Ocean City, Belmar, Spring Lake, and Seaside Heights.
The measure has the support of many environmental groups.
“We shouldn’t be turning our beaches into ashtrays or clouds of air pollution,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Secondhand smoke can lead to health impacts, lung cancer, asthma and infections. Children are playing on the beach and they are breathing in secondhand smoke.”
The ban will go into effect 180 days after the law is enacted.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)