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EDITORIAL: N.J. right to extend no-smoking areas, but not smoking age

Publication Date: 7/13/2014
  • Author:By Express-Times opinion staff
  • Publication:Express-Times

Step back, for a moment, to the middle of the last decade. Lawmakers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were taking some heat for supporting measures to ban smoking in indoor public spaces. "Clear-the-air" laws were enacted in both states, over the predictions that they would kill the tavern trade and create undue hardships for smokers.

Today those prohibitions are no longer controversial, and they enjoy overwhelming public support. A new generation has no memory of the days when smokers' "rights" trumped the rights of others to be free of second-hand smoke in offices, restaurants, bars, airplanes and other shared, confined spaces.

New Jersey is looking to extend its clean-air laws. A bill passed last month by the Legislature would ban smoking in public parks and beaches; municipalities would be allowed to set aside 15 percent of their beach acreage for smoking sections. More than 200 towns have taken action on their own to ban smoking in public areas, including most beaches on Long Beach Island.

The bill is awaiting action by Gov. Chris Christie, who hasn't indicated whether he will approve it. Given the march in public opinion toward smoke-free public places, he should sign it into law...