CAPE MAY — Cape May has gone smoke-free on its beaches and the Washington Street Mall.
New signs installed recently will help get the message across, according to city officials.
Signs ordered by city manager Michael Voll have been installed at the entrances to the popular pedestrian mall and along the beachfront Promenade. They state: “Breathe easy this property is smoke free.”
The signs are courtesy of the group Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey, funded through the New Jersey Department of Health’s office of tobacco control, according to an announcement from the city. The group works to reduce tobacco use and the impact of secondhand smoke throughout the state.
But the signs do not only apply to cigarettes and cigars. This spring, Cape May banned smoking cannabis on public property, including on the mall and beach as well as in public parks.
Mayor Zack Mullock said the smoking ban on the mall came at the request of the police department. Not many people smoke on the mall, he said, but officers expressed concern with trying to keep cannabis smoking off the mall now that it is legal in the state.
“The police asked us to try to simplify this as much as we can for them,” Mullock said. “We want to do anything we can to try to make it a little easier and a little healthier for everybody.”
He said there is always a concern with second-hand smoke, especially in areas where children are present.
“We reached out to the mall merchants. A large majority were in favor of the ban,” Mullock said. “I think it’s pretty popular with the general public as well.
The smoking ban includes the beach, he said.
Flags that state “Welcome to our smoke-free beach” have also been placed at beach entrances.
“This continues Cape May’s mission of providing a clean, safe, and healthy environment for our community and visitors,” reads a press release prepared by Ayeshah Dickerson of the city’s office of tourism, recreation and public affairs.
Shore towns have wrestled with the best way to handle cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on the beaches for years. Since Gov. Phil Murphy signed off on legalization of cannabis, some towns are worried about what the summer will bring.
They will not be able to ban cannabis, but many have approved ordinances aimed at keeping it off beaches, boardwalks and public spaces. They include the Wildwoods, Ocean City, Sea Isle City and more.