Cherry Hill proposes public ban on smoking at all township-owned properties

Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn greets young antismoking advocate Samantha Acampo.
Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn greets young antismoking advocate Samantha Acampo. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 17, 2012

Cherry Hill is telling smokers it's time to get their butts off public property - inside and out.

A proposed ordinance presented to the public Thursday - on the 37th annual Great American Smokeout - would ban smoking in parks, playgrounds, and other township-owned properties.

It is similar to restrictions passed this year that prohibit smoking at outdoor areas owned by Camden County. So far, the county has issued warnings to about a dozen smokers instead of $25 fines ($50 for repeat offenses). In Cherry Hill, fines will start at $100.

"If we're going to be serious about smoke-free zones, we ought to be serious about the penalties," Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn said Thursday in announcing the ordinance at DeCou Park Playground at Evesham and Cropwell Roads.

If approved this month, the ordinance, introduced to the township council Nov. 8, could take effect by year's end. In 2005, the council passed a resolution to ban outdoor smoking on township property, but there were no fines. This time, police could ticket smokers.

Cahn was joined for Thursday's announcement by students from Cherry Hill High School East and advocates for the American Cancer Society and tobacco-free zones.

The intent, they said, was to encourage people to stop smoking and to protect others, especially children, from secondhand smoke.

"We want our kids to grow up in an environment where smoking is not the norm," said Kim Burns, a coordinator with Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey.

In addition to establishing smoke-free parks, the ordinance would prohibit the public, including township workers, from sneaking smokes outside the Cherry Hill Public Library or other municipal buildings. It would also mean smokers would have to take their habit off the historic Croft Farm and Barclay Farm properties.

"It's outrageous," said Joe Orman, owner of Churchill's Tobacco Shop on Kings Highway. "There is so much wind and currents that carry the smoke away."

Orman said officials were going too far by banning smokers from enjoying a cigar on a public bench on a nice day.

Several years ago, the state's restrictions on indoor smoking also caught Orman's attention. But, he said, "I can see the value of that. This is just too restrictive."

A hearing and council vote are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in the town hall at 820 Mercer St.


Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838, bboyer@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @bbboyer.

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