By KENNY WALTER
OCEAN TOWNSHIP — Parents and patrons of township parks, fields and basketball courts may no longer have to deal with secondhand cigarette smoke as the Township Council is considering expanding the prohibited areas for smoking.
During the council’s Jan. 21 workshop meeting, Recreation Director Kathy Reiser requested the council consider prohibiting smoking at parks and fields, or at the very least, ban smoking within 50 feet of a playground or athletic field. Presently, there is no law prohibiting smoking at recreational facilities.
“I honestly think it is a good idea to go smoke-free in parks,” Reiser said. “The consistency of signage throughout the locations I think just sends a good message.
“I’m not hearing a lot complaints, but it is just a philosophy that we are trying to impose.”
Reiser said enforcing a smoking ban at fields will be easier to enforce than elsewhere because the games are usually staffed with township personnel.
Reiser said while there shouldn’t be problems eliminating smoking at fields, courts or playgrounds, banning smoking at the vast 250-acre Joe Palaia Park would be difficult to enforce.
“We do not have a smoke-free policy in the parks,” she said. “I do not disagree with that, although it is an enforcement nightmare.
“As is the leash law, which unless someone is there it is not enforced; we have the cleaning up after your dog law, which unless someone is there, it is not enforced.”
Reiser said one of the proposals is to limit the smoking areas outside of the indoor facilities including the Tennis and Pool Facility on West Park Avenue.
“We are proposing to make that a smoke-free facility. We still get complaints from patrons about the smokers,” she said. “We have a smoking area, and it’s difficult for enforcement purposes.”
Although nothing was officially agreed upon, Township Manager Andrew Brannen said an ordinance amending the smoking policy would be drafted for a future meeting.