NJ Politics Digest: If You Want to Smoke on the Beach, Head South

A woman smokes a cigarette on the beach. Getty Images/serafinomurru

The state’s ban on smoking on beaches took effect in January. But if you still want to grab a smoke on the sand, you can head to Wildwood Crest, the only town so far to take advantage of a provision in the law that allows towns to designate a portion of their beaches as smoking areas.

As the Inquirer reports, the state law that bans smoking and vaping on state beaches and in parks allows towns to set aside 15 percent of their beach areas for smoking.

Wildwood Crest has designated 21 areas between street ends (half the number found in the town) as a place where smokers can go, according to the report.

It’s likely other towns will soon join the Crest in finding a place where smokers can light up lawfully. As the Inquirer points out, officials in many towns along the coast don’t relish the idea of ticketing vacationers. At least one police official has asked people not to call 911 to report tobacco smoke wafting their way on the sea breeze. Others point out that smokers can climb onto their boardwalks to avoid the offense of smoking on sand.

The new law also raises questions of who is responsible for enforcement—should lifeguards take time out from guarding beaches to confront smokers? Should beach-badge checkers also be casing the beach for folks surreptitiously lighting up? Should part-time summer police officers be called in to deal with illegal use of tobacco?

Officials and environmentalists are confident that self-policing will help cut down most problems, Inquirer reports.

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