Smoking Ban Could Bring Big Fines In Cherry Hill - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Smoking Ban Could Bring Big Fines In Cherry Hill

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An "100 percent smoke-free" sign stands outside of a Cherry Hill, New Jersey park. An "100 percent smoke-free" sign stands outside of a Cherry Hill, New Jersey park.

Smokers beware!  Big changes are likely coming to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and it could cost you big money.  The Mayor is proposing a new ordinance that would ban smoking and chew tobacco throughout much of the township.  

Southern New Jersey has a significantly higher rate of new cases of lung cancer, compared to northern New Jersey.  So Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn wants to do something about it, to help protect the next generation.  And he's getting a lot of support from parents.

Joseph Cassell's four-year-old twin daughters are budding athletes who love being outdoors.  So he brought them to DeCou Park in Cherry Hill.  The family doesn't actually live in the township, but they may be coming here more often.  "Oh, absolutely!" Cassell told Fox 29.

That's because of the proposed ordinance, which is on the verge of becoming law.  It will ban smoking on all property owned by Cherry Hill Township.  That includes playgrounds, parks, ball fields, and libraries.  "A smoke-free zone where there's no fear of any second-hand smoke, I very much buy this idea," Cassell said.

"This is a significant policy change, one that carries real enforcement power," Mayor Cahn explained.  Before now, Cherry Hill only had a resolution against smoking in public places, but smokers faced no actual fines.  If the ordinance does take effect, a first offense could cost $100 to $150 dollars.  And it only gets more expensive after that.  "My hope is that Cherry Hill will set an example for other organizations and other towns and our neighboring communities," Mayor Cahn added.

Supporters of the ordinance want to curb second-hand smoke, but they also want to change mind-sets for the next generation.  "If you ask kids today they do not remember being able to smoke in a restaurant," Kim Burns of Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey told Fox 29.  "And that's our hope with passing the policies in the park, that there will be a day that they didn't know that people could actually smoke in parks."

Cherry Hill Township Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the ordinance later this month.  All of the council members indicated they support the measure.  It would become law in December, and the fines would kick in starting in January.

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