New Jersey wants its public beaches and parks free of smokers and vapers.
Well, sort of.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a conservative bill to ban smoking and vaping at beaches and parks, with a loophole. Local authorities will have the power to ignore the measure or designate a portion of the properties as a smoking section, The Associated Press reported late last week.
A Democrat, Murphy signed the New Jersey vaping beach ban legislation after various versions of the bill bounced around. Some politicians wanted a total ban. Others sought compromise. It was finally passed by the state Legislature following a June vote.
Despite the bill’s series of versions, one major issue failed to be resolved. The new law does not tab which agency, such as the lifeguards, police or security units, will enforce the measure. Local communities were left with the responsibility to figure it out, according to AP.
Murphy is not in favor of burdening the lifeguard staff with extra responsibilities.
“A lifeguard is there to save lives, first and foremost, for people in the water,” Murphy said. “I don’t want to add an extra burden to the lifeguard and take him or her away from their primary mission.”
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, sponsored the final bill, which is scheduled to go live in January. He believes lifeguards and local police departments can handle the task – when complaints arise.
“We don’t want to be disrespectful to people who smoke, but we want smokers to be respectful to everyone else who uses the beach, too,” Sweeney said.
When enforced, fines are slated to start at $250 for a first-time offender and up to $1,000 for individuals caught for the third time, AP reported.
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