New NJ Laws For 2019: Jersey Shore Beach Smoking Ban, Health Insurance Mandate

shore beach smoking banIf you live in New Jersey or plan on visiting the state in 2019, there are a variety of new laws that have gone into effect. Two that are expected to have the most impact are the smoking ban for Jersey Shore beaches and the health insurance mandate, both of which were recently signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy. Thus, if you plan to spend time on a beach this summer or need to purchase health care coverage through the ACA, here are some important details to keep in mind.

Jersey Shore Beach Smoking Ban

The smoking ban, which took effect January 16, is multi-faceted and applies not only to New Jersey’s beaches, but also its parks. Though it does apply to all the state’s parks and beaches, it does have an option in it allowing local communities to opt out of the ban, and instead designate small sections in these areas for smokers.

However, while banning smoking from these areas, the law does not specify who is responsible for enforcing the ban. Instead, Gov. Murphy left it up to individual towns to decide this matter. While Gov. Murphy stated lifeguards should not be responsible for enforcing the ban, the bill’s sponsor, State Senate President Steve Sweeney, stated it would likely be lifeguards or local police bearing responsibility for enforcing the new ban.

In addition to those smoking standard cigarettes and cigars, the ban also applies to vaping. However, smokers will be allowed to utilize parking lots, and localities can designate smoking areas that comprise no more than 15 percent of a beach or park.

Health Insurance Mandate

Along with the smoking ban, Gov. Murphy also signed into law a bill requiring all New Jersey residents to have health insurance coverage. Aimed at keeping health insurance markets available to consumers, the law took effect January 1 and was done in response to the 2017 federal tax overhaul, which eliminated the mandate formerly attached to the ACA.

With this law now in effect, New Jersey residents will face a financial penalty equal to 2.5% of their income or $695, whichever of the two amounts is greater. In addition, a family’s maximum penalty will be no more than $2,085, which is aimed at lessening the impact on those families who decline to obtain coverage. As of now, more than 800,000 state residents have health insurance through the ACA and Medicaid expansion.