Smoking might get more difficult in Vineland, New Jersey after Tuesday. The Vineland city council will be voting on Tuesday on a bill that bans smoking in public places such as parks and municipal buildings. The ban will cover an entire city block because the municipal buildings run from Wood street all the way to Seventh street. The ban happens to have different fines based on how many times the person disobeyed the law. The fine for the first offense is between $50 to $100, the second fine is $100 to $200 for the second offense and $200 to $500 for further offenses.
Maritza Gonzalez, a city councilwoman who helped organize health and fitness meetings last summer, said that studies show when there are fewer places people can smoke, tobacco use decreases. She also said that health and wellness are impacted by the use of tobacco. Gonzalez said that many of the residents struggle with addictions daily. She also says that the tobacco industry targets youth every day so the industry can replace smokers who quit or die. She wants to teach children that smoking is not the norm and feels that she can do that by creating environments that are tobacco-free. Gonzalez says that children will not only hear the message telling them not to smoke, they will also see it because it is not allowed everywhere. Angela Calakos, a councilwoman, said that as a teacher she was not allowed to smoke on school property and as a councilwoman, she was surprised it was not the same for her current position.
Vineland County is not the first municipality in Cumberland County who wanted a smoking ban to happen. The Lawrence Township Committee voted in January to ban smoking at all its publicly owned recreation properties and uses the same fine amounts as the Vineland County bill. The Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee advanced a bill last Thursday that would ban smoking on public beaches in an effort to reduce pollution and increase public health. The fines for the ban on beaches are larger than Vineland County ranging from $250 for the first offense to $1,000 for future offences. Similar bans have been passed for beaches in Seaside Park, Sunset Beach in Cape May Point and Long Branch.
The law will go into effect 20 days after mayor Ruben Bermudez signs it. Gonzalez said that Emma Lopez, the health department educator for Vineland, is telling her employees that she has free smoking succession products if they decide to stop smoking. The bill explains the dangers of smoking and states that it is in the best interest of the city that smoking is prohibited on municipal property. Gonzalez expects that some people might be angry about the possible ban but hopes that they will understand that the bill is a desire by the city to keep its residents and employees healthy.
Public places might be smoke-free in the beginning of March for Vineland if the mayor signs a bill that bans smoking in public places. The bill discusses the dangers of smoking and says it is in the best interest of the city that smoking is banned on municipal property. Gonzalez says that the bill will teach children that smoking is not the norm by showing them that smoking is not allowed everywhere. The fines for the proposed law range from $50 to $500 depending on if it is the first, second or future offenses. The final reading and signing of the bill will happen on February 25.
By Jordan Bonte