(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Clinton Calabrese and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to prohibit smoking at public parks and beaches received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“We all know the harms of smoking, not only for those using tobacco, but for those around them,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “People should be able to enjoy New Jersey’s beautiful beaches and parks without worrying about secondhand smoke or litter from cigarette butts.”

The bill (A-3798) would expand the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, which currently forbids smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, to apply to public parks and beaches throughout the state as well. The smoking ban would apply to any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state, county, or municipal beach.

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Under the bill, exemptions would be made for any parking lot that is adjacent to, but outside of, the public park or beach; any golf course; or any area of a municipal or county beach, not exceeding 15 percent of the total area, that is designated as a smoking area.

“The effects of smoking are not only detrimental to our health, but our environmental well-being,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We owe it to our taxpayers to allow them to have the most pleasant and wholesome experience possible at our state parks and beaches.”

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the nation, and secondhand smoke exposure has been linked to asthma, lung cancer and stroke,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Prohibiting smoking in public parks and beaches reinforces our efforts to protect the public against these health risks, and makes our parks and beaches a safer, more enjoyable experience for New Jersey families.”

The bill was approved 66-1-2 by the Assembly, and 32-1 by the Senate.