In recent years, smokers have found it increasingly
difficult to find a place to enjoy their habit – permissibly.
An effort in the New Jersey Legislature that would have
taken away yet another spot to light up, however, failed to gain passage. The
bill – A4306 – remained in committee when the two-year session ended Jan. 9.
The bill would have allowed law enforcement to rip a
driver’s smokes right out of their mouth and force them to pay up to $250 for the
pleasure. Drivers first would have to have been pulled over for another
offense, such as speeding or running a red light.
Sponsored by Democratic Assembly members John McKeon of
South Orange and Loretta Weinberg of
the bill would have prohibited drivers from smoking cigars, pipes or
Regarded by some as a pipe dream, supporters said the ban is
more about improving highway safety than protecting health because smoking is a
distraction for drivers, much like cell phones.
already is one of three states to restrict drivers from using hand-held cell
Concerns from groups, such as the New Jersey State
Association of Chiefs of Police, were enough to derail the effort.
Mitchell Sklar, the group’s executive director, said police
departments may balk at enforcing such a law.
“In general, we’d rather not try to incrementally look at
every single behavior and make those a violation,” he told The Associated Press.
Bills that didn’t pass both chambers when the session ended
can be reintroduced in the new session, which started Jan. 10.