Violating bans on smoking in public places in New Jersey towns could soon result in a fine instead of a disorderly person's charge.
The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a measure that Senator Bob Gordon says makes the penalty less onerous.
"If the municipalities choose to enforce it, the penalties would be civil as opposed to criminal. It is currently mandated in the statute that it's a low-level criminal offense, but still a criminal offense, and we thought that's a bit excessive."
Gordon says the change could cause towns to increase enforcement of their smoking bans.
It's now up to Governor Christie to decide whether to sign the measure into law.