Updated at 8:24 p.m. Jan. 28
WESTFIELD, NJ – Smokers lighting up at a street fair or town festival here could face fines, even those who do so with an e-cigarette.
The Town Council on Tuesday introduced a regulation to ban smoking at public events such as jazz nights, the AddamsFest beer garden and FestiFall. And it looks like smooth sailing for the update to an existing local law.
Councilman David Contract had discussed the proposed ban on smoking at public events with the Board of Health meeting, which approved updated the ban on smoking at public parks and sidewalk dining areas to include town-led events.
Passing the ordinance is in line with the existing ban on smoking in public parks in Westfield, which the council passed in 2014, Contract noted.
“The ban being proposed will include vaping and smoking at sidewalk cafes, the pool, parks and downtown events," he said. “The new parts are the inclusion of vaping and downtown events.”
The measure passed on first reading by a unanimous vote. A second reading and public hearing for the measure is set for Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of the New Jersey Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, which advocates for such measures, said banning smoking at public events has become more common.
“It makes sense in a densely populated type of environment where people are smoking or vaping near other people, who are getting the high levels of exposure,” Blumenfeld told TAPinto Westfield.
In addition to the Union County Freeholders, Middletown Township, in Monmouth County, Flemington Borough, in Hunterdon County, and Elmer Borough, in Salem County, have banned smoking at public events, Blumenfeld said.
The law introduced in Westfield Tuesday includes a ban on electronic smoking devices, and also adds to the regulation a prohibition of smoking on rooftop dining areas, which themselves were recently legalized in the downtown.
The regulation allows the Westfield Police Department and Health Department to impose fines of $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation and $500 for each additional violation occurring within one year.
Enforcement is most likely if a police officer finds illegal smoking occurring while in the course of existing duties, Mayor Shelley Brindle told TAPinto Westfield.
“We don’t have cigarette police out here,” Brindle said. “But if a police officer was in the vein of doing other stuff and saw something, he’d say ‘no.’”
About 480,000 people die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke annually, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the American Lung Association.
In New Jersey, tobacco use takes the lives of nearly 12,000 residents every year, figures from the ALA show.
In 2010, the Union County freeholders prohibited smoking at “county-sponsored events, including fairs festivals, movies and other such events.”
The proposed smoking ban in Westfield comes as a law, which Gov. Phil Murphy last year signed to ban smoking at public beaches and parks in New Jersey, takes effect this month.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh