The Ocean City, N.J. boardwalk smoking ban that was introduced at the city council’s meeting on Thursday night received unanimous support to introduce the ordinance, with a public hearing and final vote placed on the agenda for the council’s next meeting on June 26.
Under the current law, the boardwalk has seven designated areas where smoking is permitted, a measure that was passed in 2003 in response to 19 fires in the area over a period of three years. The proposed ban would eliminate those and would completely prohibit smoking along the boardwalk, including all stairways and ramps, with no off-hours or seasonal exemptions.
The proposal also has significant fines for violators, with first-time offenses ranging from $100 to $250 and repeat violations ranging from $500 to $1000, though the general practice has been to issue warnings to violators, according to ShoreNewsToday.com. A copy of the city council’s agenda from Thursday’s meeting, which includes the proposed ordinance, can be found here.
At the meeting, both council members and residents expressed concerns over where the passed ordinance would push smokers, as well as the effects it will have on the areas adjacent to the boardwalk. The consensus seemed to be that it would be impossible to completely eliminate smoking in the area, meaning the council will have to address not only the trash component, but lighting and safety in areas where smokers may be forced to congregate.
Ocean City has approximately 11,500 residents and is located in Cape May County, 11 miles south of Atlantic City.