Newark council considers expanding city's smoking ban

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on October 10, 2014

Newark's city council will consider expanding the city's ban on smoking in public places.

 

NEWARK — Newark’s smokers may soon find themselves with fewer places to light up.

Newark's municipal council is considering a resolution that would ban people from smoking in city parks and other recreational facilities.

The resolution echoes a bill the state legislature passed in June but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said the legislation would curb secondhand smoke exposure for kids.

“What this ordinance does is make Newark a smoke-free city at is relates to municipal buildings, parks and other city owned property," he said. "It's a public health issue."

Under the current city regulations, smoking is banned in all municipal buildings including city-owned office buildings, libraries, museums and gyms.

The proposed resolution would expand the places smoking is banned to include parks, inside city-owned or city-operated cars, senior centers, and community centers.

The legislation also expands the definition of smoking to include electronic cigarettes and hookah, water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco.

"Right now there is a lot of concern about what’s actually in some of these electronic cigarettes,” Ramos said.

The resolution also increases the distance from which smokers can light up near these prohibited places from 25 feet to 50 feet.

Under the law, first time offenders will continue to face a $250 fine, while second-time offenders face a $500 fine. Each subsequent offense is fined at $1,000.

After wrangling by both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature, lawmakers approved a bill in June that would ban people from smoking in county and municipal parks but allow towns and counties to create a smoking section on their beaches.

But Christie vetoed the measure, saying such legislation should be passed on the local level.

“The governor is reluctant to sign a law that the assembly and the senate passed,” said at-large councilman Carlos Gonzalez, another sponsor of the ordinance. “We have to do something to try and improve...our law.”

A public hearing on the measure is scheduled for next week, after which the council will put it to a vote.

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