Should smoking be banned on Lavallette’s ocean beaches?
As neighboring communities have enacted bans, Lavallette is one of the few local towns that still allows unrestricted smoking on the beach. A letter from a resident, Karen Perrucci, asking the borough council to ban smoking on the beach didn’t make it far at Monday night’s council meeting, with no one on the governing body making a motion to introduce an ordinance that would prohibit lighting up.
The letter from Perrucci is an annual tradition, Mayor Walter LaCicero said, momentarily looking to see if any council members would support a ban. Nobody raised their hand.
“Every year someone comes forward and asks the council to ban it, and we’ve just never had four members of the council who have been willing to support that,” said LaCicero.
Neighboring towns have passed smoking bans of varying degrees over the years. Seaside Heights extended a ban restricting smoking to 20 feet from the boardwalk to an all-out ban after officials there said smoke was wafting into sunbathers’ noses due to the wind, and cigarette butts continued to litter the beach. Seaside Park, in 2011, passed one of the state’s toughest smoking bans, restricting smoking on all beaches, boardwalks, piers and parks. Toms River Township was one of the first New Jersey towns to pass a ban, prohibiting smoking in Ortley Beach in 2002.
A law that would have banned smoking on all New Jersey beaches – regardless of municipal ordinances – passed both houses of New Jersey’s legislature last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.
Despite the occasional request from a resident, and some petitions over the years, there has not been a significant demand from Lavallette residents on the issue, the mayor said.
“It’s not a big controversy, as far as we’re concerned,” LaCicero said. “When it becomes a big outcry that we can’t ignore, it’ll happen.”
Still, he said, even if more residents asked for a ban, it might not be guaranteed.
“There are some libertarians here who say you have a right to do what you want to do,” said LaCicero.