Cigarette on beach

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'No Butts About It': NJ Beaches Smoke Free For 1st Time This Summer

June 08, 2019 - 4:35 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- This will be the first summer season that smokers can no longer light up at the Jersey Shore.

It’s a law the New Jersey Sierra Club has been trying to pass for a decade, and this past January it went into effect. Smoking and vaping are now banned on New Jersey beaches.

“We’re going to really have a great time on the beach, no butts about it,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, told WCBS 880.

Tittel says cigarette butts are a safety and environmental issue, with thousands of them littering the beaches.

“Many times people are using our beaches like ash trays, And so not only do you have litter, but in that litter of cigarette butts and cigar butts and everything else, it causes a lot of water pollution when it rains, because of the nicotine and tar and the other chemicals that are in the cigarettes,” Tittel said.

Related: New Jersey Beach Smoking Ban In Place For Start Of Summer

In 2017, the nonprofit Clean Ocean Action reported its volunteers found almost 30,000 cigarette butts in their sweeps of 60 Jersey beaches.

In the past, the decision of whether to allow smoking was left up to individual municipalities.

A big question surrounding the law: Who would enforce the ban?

“In many towns, what they're doing is they're using the same people who do the patrols for the beach badges to also do the smoking ban,” Tittel said.

He says most people will listen when they’re told not to light up.

"I think what's going to happen is 99.99 percent of the people are just going to obey it," Tittel said.

Related: Murphy Signs Bill Curbing Smoking At New Jersey Beaches, Parks

There is some respite for smokers. Municipalities can still designate up to 15 percent of the beach as a smoking area.

But fines for violating the ban are anywhere from $250 for a first offense to $1,000 for a third offense.