Share |

City Council Backs Off Ban on Smoking in Parks

Instead, Lawmakers Pass Nonbinding Resolution That "Discourages" Smoking in Parks
Rebecca Escobar
City Council President Rebecca Escobar leads the Council meetings and often speaks for her colleagues on the five-member council Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—During their May 15 meeting, the five-member New Brunswick City Council made an abrupt reversal, unanimously deciding to table a law to ban smoking in parks and other public areas would not be passed as an ordinance.

All five members had previously voted for the oridnance on its first reading, and several spoke in support of it, as we reported last month.

But without explanation, the council swapped out the ban ordinance with a nonbinding resolution that "discourages" smoking in recreation places where family and children meet such as parks.

New Brunswick Today asked the council why the ordinance was not passed and Council President Rebecca Escobar responded that there were concerns about how the city would enforce the law.

"That’s why we are keeping it as a resolution instead of an ordinance," Escobar responded.

Escobar did not rule out revisiting the ordinance, but it has yet to happen.

Donna Drummond from Robert Wood Johnson said she feels the smoking ban resolution the council passed is "too watered down."

"A reason we should push it to an ordinance is because of the secondhand smoke," said Drummond. "But the most compelling reason is for being a role model for our children. If the children don’t see adults smoking in recreational area, they are much more likely to not initiate in smoking."

Drummond also added that cigarette butt litter and fire prevention are two additional reasons to pass a strong ordinance.  She noted that the only way her organization would provide free signs to promote the smoking ban if the city passed an ordinance.

Some state legislators are attempting to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age requirement for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21. The state is currently one of four states where it is 19 instead of 18.