Welcome to the beach! We’re so glad you came. I see you have six people in your party this afternoon. Will that be smoking or non-smoking?”
Remember that question — smoking or non-smoking? Seems like ages ago that, every time you went out to eat, the hostess at your favorite restaurant would ask you that question.
“Would you like to negatively impact your health and those around you, or would you like to breathe unsullied air?” Maybe that would have been a better question.
Now, it seems like “that question” might be back again, but at a different place than you might think — outside of all places, at the beach.
Last week, a state Senate committee approved a bill that would ban smoking at beaches and public parks throughout the state. The committee amended the bill, which the state Assembly passed in March, to add a section to allow towns to set aside up to 20 percent of a beach or park as a smoking area.
Yep. A smoking area. Outside. Seems funny, doesn’t it?
New Jersey, like the country as a whole, is taking a major step to control smoking, even though it isn’t a controlled substance. And good for New Jersey.
Studies continue to show — or, rather, they show even more so — how harmful second-hand smoke is, and as such, it is right and proper for government entities to further control when and where smoking can occur.
Smoking is still legal in the state, of course, so basically, New Jersey is taking the stance that it doesn’t care if you harm yourself as long as you don’t harm others.
Good for New Jersey, and good for every other place that is passing similar bills.
People who travel to the beach, a playground or a park do so to enjoy the outdoors in all its glory. Nearby smoking, to non-smokers, can ruin that experience and affect their health. It is only right and fair, then, that our government protects non-smokers from that which is harmful to them and in which they are choosing not to participate.
Now if only tobacco wasn’t such a big business and didn’t bring us so much tax revenue, we could outlaw it all together.