Smokers can no longer light up on the beach or boardwalk of Belmar, thanks to a new ordinance that bans the practice along the beachfront and removes the remaining designated smoking areas.

(Matt King, Getty Images)
(Matt King, Getty Images)

An ordinance passed by Belmar's governing body Tuesday night 4-0 in favor of tightening smoking regulations and removing the remaining designated smoking sections along the boardwalk. Mayor Matt Doherty cited litter from cigarette butts as a major issue as well as the health concerns from second-hand smoke that wafts onto the boardwalk and beach.

The decision has received its share of derision, especially from smokers. However, even some non-smokers see the move as violation of personal freedom.

"I make my personal space, if someone is smoking I can move to another personal space," said one jogger on the Belmar boardwalk.

However, many non-smokers have emotions ranging from ambivalent to excited about the decision.

"I used to smoke, I don't smoke anymore and [the ordinance] makes happy. I have emphysema from smoking and the further I'm away from it the better I like it," said one boardwalk visitor.

A Belmar visitor from New York pointed out the borough is much more family oriented than other shore communities.

"I can understand everyone having the right to do their thing, but I can understand not wanting cigarette butts on the beach. I also can understand it for families and kids. If I had kids, I wouldn't want them to be around people smoking," the visitor said, adding that there wae other options available. "If it's that big of a deal to smoke on the beach, go to a different beach nearby."

Electronic cigarettes are not subject to the ban according to Mayor Doherty, since they don't produce a significant amount of litter and don't produce second-hand smoke.

The L Beach on the borough's west side is also not covered by the ordinance since it does not charge for admission. A separate ordinance hearing will be set up for it.