Gov. Chris Christie announced today that he has vetoed A1080, the beach smoking ban that the New Jersey Assembly passed in late June.
In his letter to the General Assembly, Christie said that “while I appreciate the sponsors’ concerns regarding the health risks posed by smoking and second-hand smoke, I am not persuaded that a presecriptive, one-size-fits-all State ban on smoking at public parks and beaches is advisable at this time.” He went on to cite how local officials have already enacted their own bans, and as such “I do not believe that the State should substitute its judgment for that of our local elected officials or upset the careful balancing of interests that informs the decision-making process at the local level.”
It took a bit of compromise to get the final version of the bill through the state senate, with the state senate version including a provision that allowed local officials to designate up to 15% of a beach as a smoking area.
Had the governor signed the bill, not only would smoking been prohibited at beaches throughout the state, but violators would have been subject to fairly significant fines, starting at $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 for each offense thereafter.