NJ may drastically expand outdoor smoking bans
New Jersey already has some of the nations most restrictive smoking laws, but there is bi-partisan support for expanding the current bans.
A measure was first passed in 2006 that restricted indoor smoking in most public places. It was expanded in 2018 to include strict outdoor smoking rules on public beaches and public parks.
Just after the expansion was signed into law, Sen. Shirley Turner proposed even tougher restrictions, but lawmakers failed to act.
Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, has reintroduced the measure (A4828.)
It would ban smoking in more outdoor public places, including boardwalks, race tracks, amusement parks, historic sites, cemeteries and burial sites.
All state-owned land would also be subject to the tougher rules.
The legislation has had the support of Gov. Phil Murphy in the past, but has not managed to gain approval in the legislature.
While passage is not assured, and leadership has not commented on whether it will be posted for a vote, there is bi-partisan support. Republican Bergen County Assemblyman Kevin Rooney has been a key sponsor in past legislative sessions.
The bill does not, however, address smoking inside Atlantic City casinos.
Casino workers have been rallying to try and pressure lawmakers to pass an smoking ban on all casino floors. The legislation has the support of the governor and a majority of lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly.
The bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing or a vote.
In June, a Stockton University poll found broad public support for a casino smoking ban. 62% of New Jersey residents said they supported the ban.
The casino industry, however, has fought mightily against it. Casino executives claim a smoking ban would drive gamblers to other states where smoking is still allowed, and derail recovery efforts from the pandemic.
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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