Truly the end of an era, the borough council in Seaside Heights just passed an ordinance that takes away the last few places on the boardwalk that smokers had to light up. And apparently it wasn’t cigarette smokers who caused it.

So smoking had already been banned on the beach and on almost all of the iconic boardwalk. There were some designated areas though. You know those long ramps that take you from the boardwalk to the street? There were several where ashtrays existed along with signs for designated smoking areas.

That all changed Wednesday.

The town was busy the last few days removing ashtrays and adding new signs making it clear that smoking was now prohibited even there. Why did it happen? Over Memorial Day weekend Mayor Anthony Vaz received quite a number of complaints from both residents and business owners about marijuana smoking. While legalization passed, smoking in many public places remains illegal.

Vaz says the law prohibits it being smoked on the beach or boardwalk but “we can’t stop them from walking down the street and smoking it.” Seaside Heights had already preemptively banned the legal selling of marijuana within the borough.

Not being a smoker I have no dog in this fight. But having stupidly dabbled when I was young I understand how much smokers enjoy it. I remember being a very little kid in the '70s and how many people smoked back then. Seaside Heights was my family’s go-to boardwalk. Back when Sodl’s restaurant and the Jet Star coaster still stood. The smoking rate then was over 40%. Everywhere you looked on the beach, boardwalk or even the rides and restaurants there was the glow of cigarettes. Even from the gondolas of that long, leisurely Sky Ride people puffed away and flicked their butts to the ground. I wonder who they hit?

The fact that you can now just step off the wooden ramps to the sidewalks and light up makes you wonder how long before they push that zone back farther? Then how long before smoking even anywhere outdoors in proximity of others becomes illegal? In two generations will smoking have become entirely illegal? How funny if marijuana becomes legal while someday cigarettes (certainly far more dangerous) is banned.

Ultimately we’d all be better off for it. Still, it’s hard to imagine the sun’s-out-guns-out guy, arms sleeved in ink, not enjoying a smoke staring out at the ocean or the bronzed beauty reaching for the pack of Capris tucked in the edge of her bikini bottoms.

But the Jet Star is gone. I guess we’ll get used to this too.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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