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Point Borough Council Debates Smoking Ordinance

Enforceability, scope of coverage debated

A proposed ordinance that would ban smoking on borough-owned property remains under discussion, after Point Borough Council agreed to postpone action while councilmembers looked further into the topic.

During the council's workshop session Tuesday night, Councilmember Christopher Goss said the main point of the ordinance is to give the borough the ability to address a nuisance behavior.

But the remainder of the council and Mayor William Schroeder raised concerns about everything from the scope of covered properties to the extent of penalties and the potential burden it would create on the borough's municipal court.

Council President Antoinette DePaola said her biggest concern was the impact of the ordinance, as drafted, on the borough's employees.

"At our beaches and parks and in the recreation center I wouldn't have a problem banning it there," she said, "but I'm concerned about banning it at the municipal building. That means our employees can't smoke here, either."

Banning smoking at the municipal building might result in employees who were using their paid break time to smoke leaving the building and grounds to do so, DePaola said, resulting in them being gone longer and exposing them to the potential for injury-causing situations.

She later described an incident where a borough employee on paid break walked to a nearby store to get coffee and tripped en route, resulting in the borough paying worker's compensation because the injury occurred during a paid break.

"You want to keep employees at your complex if possible to control the atmosphere," she said.

DePaola also questioned whether it was fair to ban smoking for those attending municipal court, which is held in Borough Hall.

"Sometimes people are here four, five, six hours," she said. "It doesn’t seem reasonable to ask people not to smoke the entire time they’re here."

"Why not hold ourselves to the same standard national parks do?" Goss replied.

Councilmember Robert Sabosik said the penalties imposed under the ordinance -- a fine and up to 90 hours of community service -- seemed rather steep.

Goss asked Borough Attorney Jerry Dasti how much discretion there is regarding the penalties handed out for violating the ordinance. Dasti said it was up to the judge, but noted that was no guarantee they wouldn't dole out a maximum penalty.

Schroeder expressed concern about the burden on the municipal court of dealing with those penalized for smoking on a borough-owned property, saying the court would likely need more staffing to deal with the resulting enforcement.

"I understand the concept and concern," Schroeder said. "Are we really going to get into that as a duty of the borough?"

"I can't say I'm in agreement with taking smoking away from someone who's out for a leisurely walk with their dog in the park," he said.

One suggestion was that the borough look at possible places where smokers could still smoke while keeping them away from building entrances, which can subject others to secondhand smoke.

"Do the legwork and come back with designated smoking areas," Schroeder said. "Give them (smokers) a little bit of a place to do it, and then we'll talk more."

"Part of the absolute (duty of government) is how you manage the property," Goss said.

"It belongs to the guy who smokes, too," Dasti said.

Nj Ghost October 03, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Really gotta stop with this infingement on personal lives...Not a smoker here but what's next?? A 16 oz soda ban? No salt in restaurants? Low fat foods?...Com'n guys, this is still America, or is it?
bo bo bagens October 03, 2012 at 12:26 PM
All for it. Smoking is disgusting and they leave their trash everywhere like its some birthright. You wanna smoke and kill yourself, do it in your car or house. Drinking a soda doesn't affect someone else nearby with stench and cancer causing materials.
Nj Ghost October 03, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Then why isn't smoking banned altogether? Ans. It brings in revenue to the govt. in the form of taxes. Yes, it is a right but not a right in that it infringes on others, We also have our rights however it's the creep of govt regulations that should not be tolerated less we continue to see this echroachment on our personal lives. That is not the reason for government. Just look at the second amendment guarenteed by our constitution yet banned by the state govt, Just one example of government stepping out of their power.....what's next?
Christopher Goss October 03, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Don't worry ghost, this isn't a matter of personal health choices, smoke as much as you like on private property. This is about management of public property which should be carried out to be as inclusive as possible. We already have laws such as noise ordinances that set expectations for public behavior to be non offensive. And to assert that it would be difficult to enforce is a false argument. By that logic we should throw out littering, helmets, seat belts, ADA laws and a host of other restrictions that are hard to enforce. We already fine people for those offenses as we do not leash ing your dog or not picking up their waste. We as a community do decide what is acceptable for our shared spaces. These arguments were already played out with our schools and they manage to enforce a smoke free environment just fine including employees who smoke. The right course of action is rarely easy but to avoid it altogether because its "too hard"?
bo bo bagens October 03, 2012 at 01:18 PM
It is in buildings, on planes and other places where the public is even sporting events, etc. Driving under the influence is banned. Is that an invasion? I don't see how banning this disgusting habit affects the super majority. Are you ok if some guy is smoking next to you at the little league game. Sometimes is just makes sense. This is one of those times.
Nj Ghost October 03, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I don't agree with seat belt and helmet laws as other states don't... To say that pooper scooper laws and drunk driving can be used to compare the smoking law is a bit over the top as they are just common sense. We should not permit smoking in confined places where it makes other people uncomfortable. Restarants and bars etc. should be left to the owners discression. This is an infringement and i as a non smoker agree with that however it's a slippery slope we live on and we can't guard against that enough....We agree with any restriction the govt wishes to place upon us under one false pretense after another but we either don't have the guts or are too lazy to place restrictions on the govt. we just let it happen and shrug our shoulders.
bo bo bagens October 03, 2012 at 02:35 PM
you not wearing a seat belt or helmet isn't impacting me. You smoking and spewing forth your cancerous materials next to me at a park is.
Spooner October 03, 2012 at 04:30 PM
They never said democracy was perfect. That's why when they wrote the Constitution they wanted to protect the minority from the majority. This smoking band is just another indication where without scientific evidence, and under the guise of "it's a nuisance"...they the majority will continue to upsert the rights of the minority. . .using their own biases(which they of cause will deny), since I would wager most of the Council doesn't smoke...So the Majority Rules. . . and as for the Minority. . .Tough SxxT. . .your rights are a nuisance!
Christopher Goss October 03, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Spooner, would you mind if I sat next to you on a bench in front of Boro Hall or at Riverfront Park and played a stereo at full volume?
A Resident October 03, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I'm looking over the Bill of Rights.....not seeing smoking listed as one. Can someone point me to where that is written?
Ann B. Egbert October 03, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Very pleased to see the Council tackle this issue. Obviously both sides have their issues and concerns. But any behavior that can impact another person in a negative way needs to be addressed and changed. redbirds
Mike October 04, 2012 at 02:33 PM
They should try enforcing the dog leash laws at Community and Riverfront Park before doing anything else. I'm just amazed that people can let their dogs run free while standing in front of a sign saying "dogs must be leashed." If we have so many residents who apparently can't read I don't think a "No Smoking" sign will do much good.
Bowie Thelonius October 04, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Can't blame the people. It's up to the dogs to leash themselves.
Spooner October 06, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Social police coming to your school next... http://parsippany.patch.com/articles/ice-cream-ban-comes-to-parsippany-schools

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