Seaside Heights’ boardwalk will be entirely smoke-free this summer, officials decided Wednesday.
Mayor Anthony Vaz said that while both state and local ordinances ban smoking and the use of vaporizers on the beach and boardwalk, several areas of the boardwalk were designated as places where smoking was allowed. With the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, however, complaints have begun rolling in about the odor produced by smoking cannabis as well as the use of a potentially intoxicating substance on the boardwalk.
“What we don’t want is for people to be on the boardwalk smoking where there is a lot of people,” said Vaz.
Indeed, the addition of marijuana smoke has led some boardwalk visitors to complaint about the allowance of “smoking sections” on the boardwalk. Borough officials decided at a work session meting Wednesday to put a policy in place that removes the smoking sections of the boardwalk, making the entirety of the oceanfront smoke-free.
“The designated areas were near the street ends, but on the boardwalk,” said Vaz. “Now, if you’re going to smoke marijuana it’s going to be off the boardwalk.”
The borough cannot prohibit the possession of use of marijuana by those of legal age, however state law allows municipalities to ban smoking in both parks and beach areas – the boardwalk qualifies under both categories.
Vaz said those who wish to smoke or vape – whether cannabis or tobacco – must leave the boardwalk area and smoke elsewhere. The borough plans on enforcing the policy this summer.
“If we catch them on the boardwalk we can ticket them,” Vaz said.