SENATE HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND SENIOR CITIZENS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE, No. 1734

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MAY 2, 2016

 

     The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Senate Bill No. 1734.

     As amended, this bill would extend the provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” P.L.2005, c.383 (C.26:3D-55 et seq.), which generally prohibit smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, to apply to public parks and beaches throughout the State.

     The amended bill provides specifically as follows:

     The smoking prohibition provided for under this bill would apply to any State park or forest, county or municipal park, or State, county, or municipal beach, but would not apply to any parking lot that is adjacent to but outside the public park or beach; any golf course; or any area of a municipal or county beach, not exceeding 15 percent of the total area, which is designated by the municipality or county by ordinance or resolution as a smoking area.

     The bill defines “State park or forest” to mean any State owned or leased land, water or facility administered by the Department of Environmental Protection, including, but not limited to, a park, forest, recreational area, marina, historic site, burial site, or natural area, but not including a wildlife management area or reservoir land.

     The Department of Environmental Protection is directed to provide information and assistance to counties and municipalities, as determined to be appropriate by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, and within the limits of resources available to the department for this purpose, to support smoke-free public parks and beaches.

     The penalties that currently apply to a person who smokes in an indoor public place or workplace, or to a person having control of the place who fails to comply with an order to enforce the smoking prohibition, in violation of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” would apply to a comparable violation of this bill.  These include a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.  (As currently provided under the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” a penalty recovered through enforcement would be paid to the State Treasury if the plaintiff is the Commissioner of Health, and to the treasury of the municipality in which the violation occurred if the plaintiff is the local board of health.)

     The Commissioners of Health and Environmental Protection, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) and in consultation with each other, are directed to adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this bill.

     The bill takes effect on the 180th day after enactment, but it authorizes the Commissioners of Health and Environmental Protection to take anticipatory administrative action in advance of the effective date, as necessary for the bill’s implementation.

     The committee amended the bill to:

     –     add county beaches to the definition of “public park or beach;”

     –     specify that both the Superior Court and the municipal court will have jurisdiction over proceedings to enforce and collect a penalty imposed due to a violation of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” as long as the violation occurred within the court’s territorial jurisdiction, except that the Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over violations that occur in an indoor public place or a public park or beach that may be issued against a State or local government entity pursuant to the penalty provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act;” and

     –     clarify that any summary court proceedings initiated pursuant to the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act” shall be in the nature of a summons, only, and shall not be in the nature of a warrant.