New Jersey bans smoking on beaches, public parks

LONG BRANCH, N.J. — Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill on the boardwalk in Long Branch Friday that will ban smoking on most of New Jersey's beaches, boardwalks and public parks.

About 15 percent of public spaces can be reserved by a municipality for smokers and parking lots are also exempt. But if you are caught lighting up in the majority non-smoking areas, you could face some stiff fines starting in January 2019.

The law stipulates a $250 fine for a first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 everytime thereafter.

"By this time next year, the only smell most New Jersey beachgoers will be enjoying will be the scent of salt air and maybe the aroma of some grilled sausage, French fries, funnel cakes wafting off the boardwalks," Murphy said.

The governor called the measure both a public health decision and an environmental issue. Last year, New Jersey environmental group Clean Ocean Action said volunteers picked up 29,000 cigarette butts off the sand plus thousands of cigars, empty cigarette packs and lighters.