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Cherry Hill’s parks, playgrounds and other public facilities will soon be smoke-free, under an ordinance that was unanimously approved by Township Council following a public hearing on Monday night, Nov. 26.
The new law makes it illegal to smoke on any public property, including Town Hall, the Cherry Hill Public Library, the Department of Public Works, on Township-owned trails and at any of Cherry Hill’s 52 public parks and playgrounds.
The change formally takes effect in mid-December, followed by a 30-day public education period. Full enforcement will begin in January. Violators will be subject to fines of up to $150 for a first offense; up to $300 for a second offense; and as much as $500 for subsequent offenses.
Mayor Chuck Cahn, who proposed the measure in early November, said the ban will promote public health and wellness by eliminating smoke from public facilities Township-wide.
“Simply put, our residents deserve to breathe clean air,” Cahn said. “At the end of the day, this change will protect the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and allow the people of Cherry Hill to enjoy our beautiful outdoor spaces without being subjected to a major health hazard.”
Council President David Fleisher added: “Council's approval this evening underscores our commitment to the health and well-being of our community, especially for our children.”
Mayor Cahn cited several benefits to establishing smoke-free zones across Cherry Hill. In addition to improving air-quality, a no-smoking policy reduces tobacco-related litter and related maintenance costs. “My hope is that Cherry Hill will serve as an example for organizations and businesses in our community, and set the standard for neighboring municipalities,” Cahn said. “This is ultimately about changing behavior and making smoke-free living the ‘norm’ in Cherry Hill and across the region.”
Among those in attendance Monday night were Dr. Arthur Baskies, former President and Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey; Jackie Craig from the American Cancer Society; Lynn Rosner from the Camden County Department of Health; Kim Burns of Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey; and Cathy Butler from Mom’s Quit Connection. Each organization was instrumental in helping the Township administration craft its ordinance.
Burns’ organization, Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey, helped the Township acquire signage identifying smoke-free zones at no cost to taxpayers. The signs will be installed in the coming weeks, and will be personalized using a $1,000 donation from students in Cherry Hill High School East’s East Students Against Tobacco.
Questions can be directed to the Mayor’s Office at (856) 488-7878, or to MayorCahn@chtownship.com.