ON RED BANK’S MENU: SMOKING AND EATING

Red, above, and all other Red Bank restaurants may soon be required by ordinance to inform diners of the caloric heft of their meals. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By JOE FISHER

Health was on the minds of Red Bank officials Wednesday night, when the borough council agreed to develop measures that would ban smoking in municipal parks and require restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus.

With restaurants in the RiverCenter business zone said to be on board with the calorie-count concept, Mayor Pasquale Menna said the council should consider making it a borough-wide requirement.

“If McDonald’s can do it, we can do it,’’ Menna said, adding that if the borough chooses to move forward, restaurants would be given ample time – perhaps a year – to comply. “We know it would cost them money,’’ he said.

Menna said the borough should not only study New York City’s calorie-count requirement pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but also look at similar laws adopted in New Jersey communities.

The governing body also agreed that the council Parks and Recreation Committee should look into extending a smoking ban to all  municipal parks. Smoking is already prohibited at Count Basie Fields to protect the artificial turf in use there, Menna said.

“It would just be the parks. We’d start small,’’ said Councilman Michael DuPont, who framed the ban as a health issue.

Menna said smoking bans in public areas “is an issue facing municipalities across the nation.’’

Councilwoman Kathleen Horgan, liaison to the Environmental Commission, said that it’s not just a matter of improving air quality, but also getting rid of the cigarette butts left by smokers. Those butts wind up in storm drains and into area waterways, she said.

DuPont, who is municipal attorney in Belmar, said residents there are behind that borough’s ocean-beach smoking ban. “People love it,’’ he said. “People don’t want to breathe smoke-filled air.’’

Neither proposal drew immediate objections from elected officials or the public.