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Township Council to Consider Smoking Bans on Public Grounds

Two versions of possible bans will be discussed at Thursday's meeting.

Bridgewater Township Council members will consider two versions of a smoking ban at Thursday's meeting, choosing between a ban on smoking on many public properties or a less restrictive ban on smoking on public places where youth activities are being held.

The ordinances fall short of being a complete ban on smoking on municipal property as some towns have done, instead specifying smoking is either not permitted "at an outdoor event at the event located on outdoor municipal property" or banned "on certain municipal properties." 

Councilman Howard Norgalis noted the less-restrictive ban follows a recommendation by the township Health Advisory Board made on Jan. 14. The board dismissed recommending a more global ban, citing the difficulties of enforcing such a ban as well as possible bans for all parks and public spaces under consideration by the legislature.  

Norgalis has been urging the council to take some action on smoking—"Especially where kids are involved," he wrote in an email to the council members—since the township lags current county regulations. He also said his family has been "touched by the scourge of lung cancer." 

Council members will discuss and vote on the introduction of one of the ordinances, and will set a date for a public hearing—or possibly snuff both ordinances and table the consideration.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. 
Fred January 15, 2014 at 08:37 PM
When does it ever stop in this Nazi State? Why don't you people concentrate your efforts on addressing the rampant heroin epidemic among your precious youth? Kids do not start smoking from looking at adults smoke. They start because they have lazy parents who fail to educate them and have to rely on the State to do their job. While you’re at it, lower the damn property taxes.
Evan Lerner January 16, 2014 at 08:19 AM
I favor a restriction that follows the less restrictive model. I've been a non-smoker for 20+ years but recognize that it is indeed legal for adults to smoke. I encourage the council to craft the language carefully to maintain the balance between public safety and individual rights. One area in the state where these bans have received attention is on public golf courses, a place where smokers generally like to smoke. If there's a high school match going on but an adult golfer is six holes away, would the adult nevertheless be prohibited from smoking because there are youth activities being held elsewhere on the course? I would argue "no" is the proper answer. As often is the case, the devil is in the details. I would also encourage the council to partition public spaces where smoking will not be prohibited into designated smoking permitted and smoking not permitted zones to the extent practicable. Permitting adults to enjoy Bridgewater's wonderful outdoor spaces without being subjected to unwanted second hand smoke should also be a consideration. Good luck!
Gerianne January 16, 2014 at 09:54 AM
I am a former smoker and aside from the dreadful health affects, I can't stand the awful smell cigarette smoke leaves clinging to clothing and inside private homes. However, I have not been appointed arbiter of common courtesy and of personal freedoms. I would like to think that people have the brains to avoid offending others while smoking in confined spaces, but outdoors is another question. The phony"cough.cough " sound that people make along with the hand waving as if they were about to suffocate where they stood is just as aggravating and incredibly juvenile. Sporting events (non-academically sponsored and held outdoors) should not be subjected to yet to be proven theories regarding the often discussed "second hand smoke" As long as it legally sold it should be subject to the same jurisdictions as alcohol, and frankly, the activities of drunks can be far more deadly than those of cigarette smokers. Although drunks are far more interesting to watch. In addition, we all have the ability to simply walk away.
BucaBuddy99 January 16, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Come on Howard? Is this the most pressing issue in our town? Let's focus on more important matters than this pointless and very difficult to enforce law.

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