Tobacconists Say Denville, NJ Smoking Ban Penalties ‘Over the Top’
Denville, New Jersey July 15, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association believes the recently enacted smoking ban in Denville, New Jersey is ‘over the top’ because, among other reasons, it could land errant smokers in jail.
The Denville town council earlier this week enacted an anti-smoking ordinance which is effective August 10 and will include parking lots, bleachers, playgrounds and adjoining sidewalks among the prohibited locations. A fine of up to $100 or up to two days of community service will be applied to first-time offenders which second-time offenders could face up to a $250 fine or five days of community service.
According to the ordinance, third time offenders will face up to a $500 fine or community service of at least 10 days or any combination of fine, imprisonment and community service determined by the municipal court.
The ordinance applies to cigars, cigarettes, pipes, ‘or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco.’
“This is over the top as far as abuse of individual rights goes,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “Yes, many municipalities have banned smoking on city properties, but few equal the onerous penalties implied with Denville’s ban.”
McCalla wondered what the council’s motivation was.
“It can’t be claims of littering, because there are laws against littering and it doesn’t make sense to clutter the codes with more unenforced laws. It certainly can’t be related to secondhand smoke, because it has been proven that there are, indeed, safe levels of secondhand smoke as established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor, especially outdoors,” he said.
“We can only assume that the council has been duped by anti-smoking forces who use unscientific and often false claims to support their outlandish allegations.”
McCalla said that property owners – even cities – have the right to decide whether or not to allow or ban smoking on their properties. However, sentences of high fines, community service and even jail are ‘going too far.’
“There are other, more serious infractions of existing laws that don’t come near to the levels of penalties that could be applied to smoking ban offenders. That’s going too far. The council members have taken far too much power into their hands in an effort to legislate the behavior of their constituents,” McCalla said.