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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Mayor: State Funds Needed to Enforce Smoking Ban on Beach

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By Rachel Rogish

WILDWOOD CREST – Enforcement doesn’t come cheap. Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera knows that well and, as he said Nov. 19, during the state League of Municipalities meeting, Trenton needs to support municipalities to make beaches cleaner and safer.
Since banning smoking on public beaches (http://bit.ly/33y4HWC), municipalities across New Jersey have followed Gov. Phil Murphy’s revision to the Clean Air Act (2006), while considering the needs of residents and tourists alike. In the revision, a provision was made for smoking areas not to exceed 15% of the total area of a municipal or county beach (http://bit.ly/2qNJHhr). The revision went into effect in early 2019.
Throughout 2018, Borough Commissioners debated between making borough beaches entirely smoke free, or granting the provision. The administration agreed to permit a designated smoking area. Signage was installed, and an ordinance signed into law; however, enforcing the law has proved challenging, according to Cabrera.
“2019 was a trial year,” Cabrera said Nov. 21, during the commissioners’ meeting. The mayor spoke on the need for state funds to enforce the law at the state League of Municipalities meeting.
Cabrera said he plans on speaking with Mayor Patrick Rosenello, of North Wildwood, and Mayor Ernie Troiano, of Wildwood, to learn if they experienced the same issues.
Media sources indicate that the law does not state who is responsible for enforcing smoking policies. Is it the job of the police, lifeguards, or beach patrol? Can a lifeguard protect the public while discharging a new duty?
These questions need answers and, according to Cabrera, hiring additional police officers is not cost-effective. The mayor has spoken of creating a Beach Ambassador program in 2020. These individuals would carry out enforcement in a “positive way,” said Cabrera.
The mayor said his address, at the Nov. 19 meeting, was well-received, and was sent to the Legislature. The state League of Municipalities hopes the bill will be sponsored and ultimately pass, providing funds for local government enforcement.
To contact Rachel Rogish, email rrogish@cmcherald.com.

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