VIDEO: Egg Harbor Township Bans Smoking in Public ParksPosted:
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Egg Harbor Township residents shouldn't have to worry about cigarette buds littering their parks and fields anymore, now that a smoke free ordinance has been passed.
“Twelve years ago, when we did the first cleanup, we picked up thousands of cigarette buds," said Kim Burns, Southern Regional Coordinator for Tobacco Free for Healthy NJ."We find fewer and fewer every time we do a cleanup, which is great. [It] directly reflects, I believe, the percentage of residents or even individuals that are smoking in New Jersey; the rates are going down.”
Robert Fairfield, chairman of the the township's Recreation Commission, said that the topic of banning smoking in such places as local parks has been discussed for a long time.
“For years, we’ve heard from our group saying, 'Why don’t we do something about smoking? Why can’t we eliminate that?'” said Fairfield.
The topic first came up to the Recreation Commission a few years ago, but after just being approved by the organization's panel and governing body, Egg Harbor Township joins 11 other Atlantic County municipalities in banning smoking and tobacco at their town parks.
“As a parent, I think that it’s going to be great for all of our kids," said Burns. "They don’t need to be seeing that when they’re doing something positive like a physical sport out on the fields. They don’t need to be seeing adults smoking and using tobacco products."
Added Fairfield: “[The ordinance] encompasses a lot of land and a lot of our children, and we’re happy that it’s finally here. There’s going to be fines associated with it. But it’s our way of giving back; it’s our way of letting parents know that that’s probably not the most healthy thing to be happening around our children.”
Offenders who are caught with tobacco products in the township's parks or nature reserve will be warned, and eventually could face fines and community-service hours. But the commission sees the passing of the ordinance as a way to keep local residents and nearby natural settings healthy.
“It provides good role modeling for the kids," said Burns. "It’s also great for the environment because people aren’t smoking and then discarding the cigarettes."
Come mid-January 2016, the ordinance will be in full effect, and signs will start popping up all around the six Egg Harbor Township parks, banning smoking and tobacco products.
Visitors, athletes, and children will be able to visit the parks, and breathe a little cleaner.
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