State unveils new restrictions for smoking ban
With just days remaining until New Jersey becomes the 11th state to ban smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces, restaurant and bar owners who oppose the action find they are facing an unexpected restriction - no smoking within 25 feet of a building.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services today made public 77 pages of proposed regulations for the smoking ban, which must be followed until they become official in late September. Included is a regulation that will put an end to any ideas restaurant and bar owners have had about creating outdoor areas where customers would be able to light up.
“This will prevent a phalanx of smokers outside the door, which is not only unsightly but unpleasant,” state Health Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs said. “And it will prevent a backwash into the restaurant.”
There are more than 23,200 restaurants and bars statewide. The New Jersey Restaurant Association maintains the ban will harm business and that customers should be allowed to decide if they want to sit in a smoke-filled room. The organization says 67 percent of resturants are already smoke-free.
Armando Frallicciardi Jr., co-owner of Lorenzo’s Cafe in Trenton and a strong opponent of the ban, called the unexpected regulation absurd. He said a number of restaurant and bar owners, including himself, have been considering building a deck or a patio for outdoor smoking.
“This means if we build a 30-foot deck...we would have five feet where people can smoke. That is totally absurd," he said. "The state needs to work with small business on this and stop this. They have gained their objective on this. Now we need to have smoking outside.”
In a last-ditch effort to stop the ban - at least temporarily - lawyers for restaurant and bowling alley owners plan to go before Judge Stanley R. Chesler in U.S. District Court in Trenton tomorrow to seek a restraining order on the grounds the law is discriminatory because it still allows smoking in Atlantic City’s 13 casinos. The owners maintain they will accept the ban if the casinos are included.