Smoke on the Water: Limited Tobacco Use on Island Beaches

Jul 26, 2017

Even as New Jersey is poised to become the third state in the nation to hike the smoking age to 21, smoking remains acceptable, under the right conditions and to the chagrin of beachgoers, on most Island beaches.

The topic has been a popular one this summer, both at the Surf City Taxpayers Association meeting with the mayor last month and across social media as members of the public complain about secondhand smoke. Still, Surf City Beach Patrol Capt. Mark Dileo said he hasn’t heard any chatter about smoking on the beaches.

“We haven’t received a complaint this year as far as I know,” he said.

Gov. Chris Christie’s 2016 conditional veto of a no-smoking bill leaves the decision to ban smoking on municipal-maintained beaches up to local officials. At the time of Christie’s decision, Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney, who oversees beaches, said the council supported the governor because the bill would have cost the borough money by requiring signs at all park and beach entrances, delineating 15 percent of the beach as a smoking area, and subjecting the town to fines if the provisions of the law were not enforced.

In 2012, the Surf City Borough Council did adopt a no-smoking ordinance that prohibits smoking at the bay bathing beach and the children’s playground at South First Street and Barnegat Avenue. Smoking is allowed outside the flags during guarded hours on beaches in the borough.

In Ship Bottom, smoking is banned on all beaches between the surfside flags during lifeguard hours, and at all times at the playground areas of Waterfront Park, located at 10th Street and Shore Avenue. It’s also barred at the bay bathing beach between 15th and 16th streets.

Smoking is prohibited on all beaches between the swimming flags during hours when lifeguards are on duty in Harvey Cedars, and year ’round at Sunset Park, excluding designated parking areas.

The smoking bans in Ship Bottom and Harvey Cedars went into effect in 2013.

Under a smoking ban adopted in 2014, smoking on any of Long Beach Township’s beaches, as well as at Bayview Park, is prohibited from May 20 to Oct. 1. Smoking at the park’s playground area is banned all year.

At the north end of the Island in Barnegat Light, smoking is prohibited on borough beaches from May 1 through Sept. 30. The ban went into effect two years ago after officials received complaints.

Beach Haven was the last Island town to adopt an ordinance outlawing the smoking of tobacco products on borough beaches, including within 15 feet of the beach access pathways, as well as in any recreational or park area or borough-owned property. The measure was approved in May 2016.  —G.G.S.

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