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Lavallette Council Turns Down Beach Smoking Ban

No smoking sign at a local beach.

No smoking sign at a local beach.

Requests from two residents at a council meeting Monday night were not enough to convince borough officials to enact an anti-smoking rule on Lavallette’s beaches.

Mayor Walter LaCicero said the “perennial” request to ban smoking was not something the governing body hadn’t dealt with before, and – like this year – could not garner enough council support.

“Smoking has gotten to be a lot less in Lavallette, thankfully,” said resident Mary Heveran. “However on certain parts of our beaches there are people who smoke cigars consantly.”

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Heveran asked council members to consider a ban at a future meeting, but LaCicero instead asked for the matter to be dealt with immediately, requesting a motion from a council member to propose the ban.

Councilwoman Joanne Filippone did so.

“I think we have to take a stand like all the other beaches have done,” said Filippone. “If Seaside Heights can have a beach with no smoking, I think we can have one too.”

Jim MacDonald, a Camden Avenue resident, agreed that a ban should be put into place, saying he started a discussion on a local Facebook group proposing a ban. The Facebook group’s members, he said, “15 or 20 to one,” supported a ban, but the administrator of the page removed the debate because it had “turned nasty.”

No other council members seconded Filippone’s motion, effectively killing the chances of a ban being passed.

James Borowski made his own motion to ban smoking within the flagged areas where swimming is allowed, but likewise received no second.

Council members brought up varying reasons why they would not support a ban. Councilman Robert Lamb said he was concerned over how the ban would be enforced.

“It’s hard enough to keeps dogs off the beach and people off the dunes,” he said.

Heveran said the ban would be mostly self-enforced – a sign banning smoking would stop the vast majority of people from doing so – and Filippone said it could be enforced the same the myriad of other beach regulations are handled.

“I don’t expect the badge checkers to be enforcers,” said Filippone. “All it takes is a phone call to the police department. They’ll come down and ticket them.”

“My concern is that you’re just moving it to another place,” said Councilman Michael Stogdill. “You move it to the boardwalk or you move it to the street.”

Council President Anita Zalom said the borough only owns to the high water mark, which would make it difficult to enforce at the water line or on jetties.

The lack of support for a ban did not satisfy the residents who spoke out in favor of it.

“I can’t believe not one of you wouldn’t second Joanne’s motion,” MacDonald told council members.

Lavallette is one of the last local holdouts where smoking is still allowed on the sand. It is either banned or heavily regulated in Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, Ortley Beach and Bay Head.

A statewide beach smoking ban overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the state legislature last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

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