Legislative committee considers statewide ban on smoking at beaches, parks

Lawmakers are working on new legislation that would make most of New Jersey's state parks and beaches smoke-free. (5/19/14)

TRENTON - Lawmakers are working on new legislation that would make most of New Jersey's state parks and beaches smoke-free.

State Sen. Shirley Turner says she has heard stories from constituents that made her stomach turn. "He was disgusted because his children were playing on the beach and made a sand castle and used cigarette butts to decorate the sand castle," she says. 

Turner's bill, which made it through committee today with little trouble, would ban smoking on beaches and in parks. Environmental advocates cheered the move.

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"We picked up almost 100,000 cigarette butts last year," says Jeff Tittel, of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "In fact, it's the No. 2 piece of litter we picked up after plastic."

A last-minute compromise cleared the way for towns and counties to create smoking sections in certain areas if they choose to. State parks and beaches would have a total ban.

The plan also includes e-cigarettes, which didn't sit well with State Sen. Ron Rice and others in attendance.

Rice suggests that bills like this might be better at fining people than protecting their health. "There's a lot of stress out there, smokers are gonna smoke," he says.

Another change removed golf courses from the list of banned locations.

The bill passed out of committee with all but one lawmaker in support. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

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