It's about time.

Thursday night the Asbury Park City Council passed a law that prohibits smoking tobacco products on the beach. It only applies to actual tobacco products; e-cigs and vaping are still allowed as they should be. Those don't smell horrendous and don't contain the carcinogens that tobacco products can pass secondhand. (Yes, studies have found even outdoors you can be damaged by secondhand smoke. These weren't some liberal think tank studies either; the researchers were actually trying to prove the opposite and were shocked to find that some damage is still incurred.) If you're wondering about the boardwalk that's safe for smokers. Just not the beach.

This is a good law and all shore towns should do the same. Governor Christie had the chance to make this mandatory for those towns but he refused. The difference between smoking on a beach and smoking most other places outdoors is the way people enjoy the beach. You set up your site and you stay there for many hours. You're not quickly passing a smoker on the street or on the boardwalk. If a smoker sets up camp right next to you, without a law you either have to take it or go through the painstaking chore of moving all your things. Only to potentially have another smoker set up by you once again.

Look, I used to smoke. I'm not trying to shame smokers. I understand how much you enjoy it. I also understand it's the single worst thing you can do for your health. But these smoking bans aren't about that. They're about the non-smoker. When you have two rights at odds with each other, the right to smoke versus the right to breathe unencumbered, something has to give. Logic should prevail and in public the right for one to damage themselves should take a backseat to the right to breathe fresh air.

I haven't yet read anything in the case of Asbury Park about a 'smoking section' set up on the beach, but I hope that's not part of the plan. Smoke drifts. Remember the smoking sections in restaurants? There was a reason that didn't work. Unless you're going to waste precious beach space as a neutral zone to buffer the smoking and non-smoking sections there will still be people affected by smoking. It's best to have an outright ban and actually enforce it.

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