The late 1990s saw a surge of nationwide smoking restrictions put into effect. With varying amounts of resistance and controversy, workplaces, shops, theaters, restaurants and bars in a growing number of states—including New Jersey—all went smoke-free.
More recently, as the tide of public and medical opinion has turned more decisively against smoking, developers and administrators in a few buildings across the Hudson in New York City have attempted to ban smoking not just in common areas, but in private apartments as well.
No New Jersey condos have attempted to follow suit, but most industry experts agree that it's only a matter of time before the first Garden State condo attempts to go smoke-free. When that day comes, questions will inevitably arise: Is it morally right to impose restrictions on neighbors’ private residences? How will such decisions impact the building community’s cohesiveness? How will placing such restrictions on private units affect their resale value? And perhaps most important, is banning smoking in private apartments even legal?
New Jersey passed its own Smoke-Free Air Act in April 2006. Its provisions stated that smoking is a “leading cause of preventable disease and death in the state and the nation,” and that “smoking is prohibited in an indoor public place or workplace.” Exempted from the law are private homes and automobiles as well as cigar bars, cigar lounges, tobacco retail establishments, tobacco businesses and casinos under certain conditions. Anyone who is in violation of the law could be fined from $250 to $1,000 depending on the frequency of the offense.
The New Jersey law also stated that indoor public spaces and workplaces are required to put up visible signs that say that smoking is prohibited and that violators are subject to a fine. Conversely, the person in charge of the public spaces or workplaces may put up a “Smoking Permitted” sign in specific areas where smoking is allowed.