Like he did in 2014, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation on Friday that would have banned smoking at public beaches and parks in New Jersey, at least conditionally. The governor wasn’t amenable to the idea of telling cities and towns that they had to ban smoking on their parks and beaches.
However, by Friday night the governor was open to a ban on smoking at state-owned parks and beaches, and proposed the amended ban to the legislature, which must now decide whether or not to accept it.
The original bill easily passed the New Jersey Legislature, passing 24-6 in the Senate and 52-6-3 in the Assembly, but Christie never seemed favorable towards the proposed laws.
This year’s ban would have allowed local municipalities to create smoking areas on their beaches, up to 15 percent of the total area, but it would not apply to parking lots adjacent to public parks or beaches. With Christie’s proposed amendment, it will still be up to cities and towns to enact their own bans, but the state’s 39 state parks and forests, along with the one state-owned beach, will be free of smoking and e-cigarette use. Smoking in parking lots would still be allowed.
Violators would be subject to fines not less than $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
Patrick Lagreid contributed to this story.