According to an article in the Sand Paper, the New Jersey state legislature has passed legislation that would ban smoking in all state parks and beaches, with no exceptions. Smoking would also be banned in municipal parks, but localities would be allowed to designate 15% of the park as a smoking area.
According to the article: "“The bill first has to be signed by Gov. Christie,” said Karen
Blumenfeld, executive director of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policies. ... “This law is nationally groundbreaking as New Jersey will become the
first state in the United States to require that all state, county and
local parks, recreation areas and beaches be 100 percent smoke-free,”
said Blumenfeld. “It provides for consistent, uniform healthful
environments from town to town. New Jersey is ready for a 100 percent
smoke-free parks and recreation areas policy statewide. ... One hundred percent smokefree parks and recreational areas also
generate health, environmental and economic health benefits. It
normalizes smokefree environments where children engage in recreational
activities, reducing the likelihood they’ll start smoking.” She said there is no safe level of secondhand smoke even outdoors, especially for children and seniors. “Studies show outdoor smoke levels can be as high as indoor
smoking-permitted locations,” said Blumenfeld."
The Rest of the Story
I doubt that the smoke levels in New Jersey parks were anything like the levels that are being experienced by the tens of thousands of the state's casino workers.
Vince Rennich is a casino floor worker who at age 47 was diagnosed with lung
cancer due to 25 years of heavy exposure to secondhand
smoke, which he described as working in "a modern-day coal mine." "A good majority of the time, I'm surrounded in a cloud of smoke," he said.
While New Jersey anti-smoking groups and policy makers pat themselves on the back for what they claim is "groundbreaking" public health protection, New Jersey remains one of the two worst states in the country in terms of failure to protect a huge segment of its workers - casino workers - from the devastating health effects of heavy and chronic secondhand smoke exposure.
While the new law may provide for "consistent, uniform healthful environments from town to town," it doesn't do so if that town is named "Atlantic City."
In my opinion, New Jersey has no business pretending that achieving "100 percent smoke-free parks and recreation areas" is some sort of huge public health victory when the reality is that thousands of its casino workers continue to suffer disease and disability from exposure to high levels of secondhand smoke.
Banning smoking in public parks and beaches may have environmental benefits, but in terms of human health, there is no evidence that these policies are actually addressing any substantial public health problem. In contrast, the problem of secondhand smoke exposure in New Jersey's casinos is truly a life and death issue.
The rest of the story is that New Jersey lawmakers and anti-smoking groups should be ashamed of celebrating the "groundbreaking" human health protection represented by eliminating all wisks of tobacco smoke in public parks while doing nothing to eliminate the literal clouds of smoke that enshroud the state's casino workers who are simply trying to make a living and support themselves and their families, but have to breathe in high levels of carcinogens in order to make a living.
I'm sure those casino workers will sleep well at night knowing that never again will they have to walk by a smoker in a park.