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Should Smoking Anywhere in Public Be Banned in New Jersey? [POLL]

 Zero Creatives, Getty Images
Zero Creatives, Getty Images

One Assembly committee wants to ban smoking in popular outdoor locales.
In Vineland, there’s a proposal being floated that would ban smoking outside all municipal owned properties.

Sure makes the prospect of giving up the habit a better alternative with each approaching day.

Which leads me to wonder whether or not there’s widespread support, if not for the outright ban on the sale of cigarettes here in New Jersey (which will NEVER happen); but on the banning of smoking anywhere in public.

For instance, walk down a street in any town…(Wham!) ticket if you’re caught smoking!

The reason I ask is because I think cigarette smokers have become the new ‘lepers’!
It’s hard to feel sorry for cigarette smokers – especially among those who’ve managed to kick the habit. But I wonder, with all the areas that are being contemplated as “no smoking” zones – how long will it be before the entire public space here will be designated as such?

According to this:

The state Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee advanced a proposal Thursday that would prohibit smoking in popular outdoor locales.

The measure could be the next in a string of similar bills previously passed in New Jersey, such as a 2006 ban on indoor smoking — with exemptions for some casino areas — and a 2010 amendment outlawing indoor use of electronic smoking devices.
Ever since those provisions went into effect, Garden State lawmakers have been looking to expand anti-smoking legislation statewide.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) said…“my bill would apply to any state, county or local park and forest, and public beaches.” “It would prohibit smoking.”

The smoking ban would not include parking lots adjacent to, but still outside, the public parks and beaches. Under the legislation, the Department of Environmental Protection is directed to provide information and help to counties and towns to support smoke-free parks and beaches.

“I have gotten a lot of phone calls from those people that are on the beach that inhale secondhand smoke,” Vainieri Huttle said. “Cigarette butts certainly pollute the beaches and people would like to feel their toes in the sand, not upon cigarette butts.”

The measure does include hefty fines.
“It would be $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense,” Vainieri Huttle said.

And in Vineland:

A smoke-free zone would descend around all municipal-owned properties in about three weeks under a measure the City Council is expected to adopt Tuesday. Violators could be fined hundreds of dollars.

The proposed ordinance revision states Vineland “finds it in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the general public” to ban tobacco in any form on virtually any city-owned property. The state of New Jersey already has a similar rule.

Electronic cigarettes, which create a nicotine-infused vapor that resembles smoke, are included in the proposed Vineland ban, City Solicitor Richard Tonetta said. The proposal also covers herbal products, such as cigarettes produced overseas with oregano instead of tobacco, he said.

Currently, people can smoke outside City Hall or the nearby Police Department building. The new rules would have a particularly broad effect in that area because, in addition to those municipal buildings, the Vineland Public Schools headquarters is on the other side of the block on Plum Street; the school system already has a tobacco ban.

The ban would be the latest in a long series of restrictions targeting tobacco users in New Jersey that have limited smokers’ ability to light up while having dinner, gambling at casinos or even visiting some beaches. In 2004, Vineland banned smoking in all city-owned parks.

Councilwoman Maritza Gonzalez, a liaison to the health department, links tobacco bans to “health and wellness” programs, such as the summer festivals Vineland held last year.

“Many of our residents struggle daily with their addiction,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “The tobacco industry targets our youth each and every day to become smokers in an effort to replace the smokers who die or quit.”

“I want to teach our kids that smoking isn’t the norm,” said Gonzalez, an educator in the city’s school system. “To do that, we have to create environments that are tobacco-free so they not only hear the message ‘don’t ever start to smoke,’ they perceive it as well because it’s not permitted everywhere.”

The ordinance proposes fines for violators, starting at $100 for a first offense. The fine is between $100 and $200 for two-time offenders, and then $200 to $500 for third-time offenders.

If we as a state are so concerned about the health of our citizens, both smoker and non-smoker alike – then why not just call for an outright ban in public. Not just in parks or near schools; but anywhere.

In reality, an outright ban isn’t practical for a number of reasons – but with the growing number of places you can’t smoke – we’re rapidly coming to the day where you just might see that. Would you support an outright ban on smoking anywhere in public in New Jersey?

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