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WAYNE — Outdoor cafés are held to the same no-smoking standards as indoor restaurants under a new ordinance that forbids anyone from lighting up a cigarette or puffing on a cigar where food is served.
Smoking was already frowned on in such places, but officials have now taken another step to prevent it from happening.
The ordinance, which will take effect in two weeks, includes a prohibition on cannabis use, as well as on hookahs, tobacco pipes and vaping devices.
It amends an existing section of the municipal code that lists regulations for outdoor cafés.
“We had people taking some liberties that we needed to address,” said Mayor Christopher Vergano.
The pandemic commanded more of a need for alfresco dining.
At the height of the outbreak, in July 2020, officials began to issue “special event” permits that allowed establishments to expand their premises outdoors.
Even today, Vergano said, many small businesses are still trying to make up for what they lost during the health crisis.
In February 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill to permit bars, breweries, distilleries and restaurants to serve patrons outdoors in private seating areas and on sidewalks.
That permission was set to expire, but the governor extended it by two years — until the end of November 2024 — to further support the state’s food and beverage industries.
Dangers of secondhand smoke
The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, signed into law by then-Gov. Richard Codey in January 2006, ensures that nonsmokers can breathe smoke-free air in certain public places. The legislation, amended five years ago to include beaches and parks, does not include outdoor cafés.
But that has not stopped some local governments from enacting their own prohibitions.
Besides Wayne, the borough of Fort Lee bans smoking in outdoor cafés. It was the first municipality in Bergen County to pass such an ordinance when it did so in March 2015.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to secondhand smoke causes more than 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults per year.
Those who violate the Wayne ordinance may be imposed fines of up to $2,000, or community service or jail time.
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Wayne NJ bans marijuana, tobacco use in outdoor restaurants