Sussex considers smoking ban

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  • PHOTOS BY MARK LICHTENWALNERSussex Mayor Katherine Little said she requires oxygen due to the effects of second hand smoke.

  • Tracy storms (left) and Elise McGaughran address the Sussex council about a public outdoor smoking ban.

SUSSEX BOROUGH — Everyone knows smoking is unhealthy.

And not just for the smoker, but everyone around the smoker.

Even outdoors, where a cloud of cigarette smoke wafting by contains more than 7,000 different chemicals, with approximately 70 being carcinogenic (according to the American Cancer Society).

On Nov. 1, the minimum legal age to buy tobacco in New Jersey will go from 19 to 21 years of age. This will make New Jersey the third state in the nation to require an individual be 21 years old to buy tobacco. This also includes e-cigarettes.

Elise McGaughran of Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey, and Tracy Storms-Mazzucco, a health educator from the Sussex-Warren Chronic Disease Coalition, gave a presentation to the Sussex Borough Council on Tuesday regarding smoke-free parks and other outdoor areas, and to inform the council of the new mandatory legal age to buy tobacco.

McGaughran had given a presentation in February, and introduced an ordinance that would ban smoking in borough parks. Concerns over a lack of a police force, and the ability to enforce such a ban derailed any further action.

Thirteen of the 25 municipalities in Sussex County have ordinances banning outdoor smoking, including Vernon and Wantage.

“I know nothing has happened with the ordinance,” McGaughran said. “I heard there was some issues with enforcement. I can tell you, with coordinating this grant over eight counties in northern New Jersey, the towns that do have smoke-free ordinances report that they are self-enforcing.”

McGaughran cited a meeting with Vernon Mayor Harry Shortway, were he said that the town didn’t have any problems with enforcing the outdoor smoking ban. That a sign saying no-smoking was usually enough of a deterrent.

The council, who have been debating safety issues concerning Deckertown Park, located on Main Street, and parking enforcement on mainstreet, immediately questioned the borough's ability to enforce a smoking ban.

“Do other municipalities have police departments,” Sussex Mayor Katherine Little immediately asked?

“Some do, and some don’t,” McGaughran tried to explain. “The idea is to have a smoke-free environment. That doesn’t mean we can stop all smoking. The no-smoking signs are self-enforcing, they work on their own.”

Mayor Little, who claimed to never have smoked, said she is on oxygen as a result of secondhand smoke.

“I never smoked a day in my life, but I was around people who smoked,” Little said.

“I am in favor of restricting the smoking,” Little said, “however it is going to be a problem enforcing it.”

The council agreed to write an ordinance to vote on at a later date, but seemed very uninterested in any measure they could not enforce without a police presence to write tickets.

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