Smoking zones along a NJ beach

August 11, 2009 3:31:49 PM PDT
Officials in Seaside Heights, Ocean County say they'll use the rest of this summer to prepare for the real crackdown next year: town fathers have made the beach a smoke free zone.It's a breath of fresh air for some beachgoers here with the new Seaside Heights smoking rule.

"I smell nothing it's great except, you know, the ocean water which you're supposed to smell," said Debra Piana.

"I don't think that they should smoke on the beach because it blows on the kids," said Tina Connor.

Now smokers can only light up within 20 feet of the boardwalk over the mile long stretch of beach in Seaside Heights. The signs and ashtrays were put up a week ago. The borough administrator explains they're testing the new rule over the last weeks of summer so they're not handing out summons just yet.

"We're getting 99-percent compliance from everyone so we don't want to be too harsh because again we're not trying to turn anybody off from being here. We're just trying to balance out the needs of smokers and non-smokers on our beach," said John Camera.

Fines won't kick in until next summer now folks just get a friendly reminder if they stray beyond the boundary.

But while some smokers are complying they're not happy about it.

"The sand is hot it's a pain in the butt, you know, we're not hurting anybody right here," said Terry Troxell.

"They should move it up at least halfway instead of having everybody walk from one end to the other end," said Larry Pittman.

And Camera says they are looking into expanding the boundaries to 40 feet for next summer instead of 20 to give smokers more room.

Still that's not enough for some.

"I wouldn't be doing cartwheels over that one but that's fine," said Troxell.

Camera is hoping by expanding the additional 20 feet at least toward the water it will compel more smokers to set up their blanket within the smoking zones.