Gov. Christ Christie Says: Smoke Up, New Jersey
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Late last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill outlawing smoking in public parks and limiting the habit at state beaches. Christie waved his veto pen despite the measure clearing both chambers of the state legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.
"While I appreciate the sponsors' concerns regarding the health risks posed by smoking and secondhand smoke, I am not persuaded that a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all State ban on smoking in public parks and beaches is advisable at this time," said Christie in a statement.
Proposed back in February, the bill passed in late June with a 64-8 vote in the Assembly and a 30-3 vote in the Senate. In his veto, Christie argued that local municipalities should have more control, rather than the state issuing a blanket ban.
"Too often, policy-makers at more centralized levels of government encroach into areas of public policy previously reserved for more localized governing bodies," he continued in his statement. "I do not believe that the state should substitute its judgment for that of our local elected officials or upset the careful balancing of interests that informs the decision-making process at the local level."
Naturally, Christie's opponents pounced on the governor following his executive action, including one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, who sharply criticized the move.
"This is extremely unfortunate from both a public health perspective and from an environmental perspective," Huttle said in a statement after the veto was announced. "I would have hoped the governor would have joined the overwhelming majority of the legislature who supported this bill by standing up for the public's best interests."
Currently, over 200 towns in the state have already banned smoking in public parks, while more than a dozen have banned cigarettes at the beach.