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Smokers’ Rights! My Letter To The State Senate And State Assembly Regarding The Proposed Ban On Smoking At Beaches And State Parks.

I submitted this letter to be read into testimony at any hearings regarding this latest assault on smokers’ rights in New Jersey.


 I strongly urge you to reject any proposal to ban smoking on state property such as beaches and parks. Any such law would take part of the joy out of life for smokers in New Jersey who enjoy the outdoors.

 We are already paying you the highest tobacco tax in the country (and, along with our non-smoking neighbors, the highest other taxes too). I really think we are already being sufficiently punished for our sins.

People are not leaving the state because we haven’t yet banned smoking in parks and on beaches. All of the top states that New Jerseyians flee to happen to be more smoker friendly than our state. People are moving out precisely because of laws like this. They don’t want to pay more taxes and they don’t want  you to seize more control over their lives. Your job as a member of state government is to protect my freedom, not dismantle it. Please concentrate on solving our financial problems and please refrain from dictating to me how I should live my life. We didn’t elect you to be our mommies and daddies.

I live in Belmar and work in Newark. I go through that long commute because I love the beach. What I want to do is relax at the water’s edge and watch my young daughters play in the ocean. And yes, enjoy an occasional cigarette. I never litter (even in Newark) and I stay downwind of any nearby non-smokers. In the course of opposing local restrictions on smoking I calculated that in order to comply with a smoking ban I would have to walk a total of over a mile across hot sand on a typical beach day. I am 53 years old and my knees hurt. Do you really want to do this to me? Please show some compassion. The smoking ban here has ruined one of my favorite things in life. I am still opposing it and hope to change it. If you pass this law I might as well give up and find a friendlier place to live.

I don’t use our state parks much but I am quite sure that smokers who enjoy hiking are similarly distressed. How can you go for a hike if you have to leave the park every time you want to enjoy a smoke? It’s impossible.

The science used in government-funded second hand smoke studies is highly questionable and needs to be further scrutinized. A federal judge actually vacated a 1993 EPA report on second hand smoke because of the corrupt science that was employed. It is my opinion that smokers are the victims of a ruthless propaganda campaign in this country, but even if there were some truth in these reports there is no place on earth better ventilated than the beach. If the wide open and breezy beach is still too enclosed to suit you where is left for we smokers to go? Outer space?

Littering is bad and all littering should be discouraged and, when possible, punished. Smokers could do a better job of not annoying nearby non-smokers, but there is no right not to be annoyed. There are all sorts of activities that people find annoying. I’m sure many people who find smokers annoying annoy other people in other ways. Will you outlaw all activities that someone might be annoyed by?

This law will remove one of life’s great pleasures for a great many of your constituents. You must respect people’s right to pursuit of happiness even if they find happiness in a lifestyle you wouldn’t necessarily choose for yourself.


Please contact Loretta Weinberg, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee here and Matthew Milan, chairman of the Assembly Tourism and the Arts committee here. Our Senator, Sean Kean, happens also to be on the Health and Human Services committee. He can be contacted here. Please tell them that they’ve already done quite enough to make life miserable for residents of the state, smokers and non-smokers alike. Ask them to respect our right to be left alone and to kill this bill.

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