Ventnor City Administrator Maria Mento shows one of the no smoking signs that will be installed on the boardwalk.


No butts about it. Downbeach communities are likely to go totally smoke-free this summer.

A new state law that took effect Jan. 16 bans smoking on New Jersey beaches and parks but includes a provision that allows municipalities to set aside small smoking areas where people can still light up. Vaping is also prohibited on the beaches under the new law.

However, at least two Absecon Island communities are planning to go totally smoke-free.

The new law allows municipalities to set up 15 percent of its beaches for smokers. But which beaches should smokers be allowed to release their second-hand smoke, which will end up infringing on the rights of non-smokers.

Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo, a non-smoker, said he thinks the beach should be synonymous with healthy activities and recreation.

“Why would I send a mixed message that smoking is OK in an assigned area,” he said. “I believe that the beach is not an appropriate place to smoke during beach hours.”

After hours is another story, he said.

Nevertheless, he will not ask his fellow commissioners to even consider allowing smoking on a portion of the beach.

Longport was one of the first local municipalities to ban smoking on its beaches. It adopted its ban on smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes and electronic devices on the beach and in public parks and playgrounds on March 22, 2017 and has had no problems with enforcement, according to Police Chief Frank Culmone.

Shortly after Longport adopted its ban, residents of the 9600 Atlantic Avenue Condominium Association in Margate, which is located near the Longport border, asked city officials follow Longport’s lead and ban smoking on the beach.

Although he said it was a great concept, Commissioner John Amodeo said a ban would be difficult to enforce. So Margate waited for the state to take action on the statewide ban.

According to Margate Mayor Michael Becker, the city has yet to discuss if it would set aside a portion of its beach for smokers.

However, Ventnor commissioners said it would not be fair for certain residents who go to the beach at the end of their block to have to endure breathing second-hand smoke. After a brief discussion commissioners decided it would be best to make the entire beach smoke-free.

Ventnor recently received several signs from Tobacco Free New Jersey that it will install on the boardwalk announcing the beaches are smoke-free.

“The first year will be difficult to enforce, but next year, it should be easier,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel said.

Although lifeguards will not be required to enforce the ban, there will be Class I and Class II officers on ATVs patrolling the beach, he said.

Mayor Beth Holtzman said although the city could legally designate a portion of each beach for smokers, it makes more sense to have the entire beach smoke-free.

“It would be nice to see designated smoking areas to accommodate smokers, but it’s really not feasible,” she said.

Additionally, the city would incur additional cost for cigarette receptacles.

“We’re better off not doing it,” she said.

Staff Writer Donald Wittkowski contributed to this report.

Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.