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Ocean City Moves Closer to Boardwalk Smoking Ban

City Council approved the proposed legislation on first reading Thursday night.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
Ocean City Council took a step toward banning smoking on the boardwalk Thursday night.

City council unanimously approved a resolution on first reading that would ban smoking anywhere on the boardwalk, including the ramps and stairs leading to the boardwalk.

The proposed penalty for smoking in these areas is $100-$250 for the first offense and $500-$1,000 for any subsequent offense.

Council members were in agreement that smoking should be banned on the boardwalk, as it presents a safety hazard as well as a danger to children and non-smokers from secondhand smoke.

Those smoking cigarettes also tend to throw their butts in the beach sand when they are finished.

There was some concern that banning smoking on the boardwalk itself would result in smokers congregating at boardwalk entrances, leading to a situation in which families may have to walk through the smoke to get onto the boardwalk.

Councilman Keith Hartzell suggested a large sand-filled area where smokers could congregate away from the boardwalk entrance. It could also reduce the cost the city might have to take on from installing new receptacles, as they could throw the butts into the sandy area.

Hartzell purchases receptacles for his business, which he says are expensive and need to be replaced often when they are stolen.

Councilmen Michael DeVlieger and Peter Guinosso each expressed concern that smokers should be given a warning before being fined.

“People have been smoking on the boardwalk a long time. I think we should give them a warning or two before hitting them with a fine,” DeVlieger said. “I think it makes sense to do this, but we must educate the public about it before we start fining people.”

“We should put actual warning language in there,” Guinosso said.

City officials cautioned that police officers always have the discretion of issuing a warning, and don’t believe specific language needs to be included in the law.

The idea was brought forth by Councilman Scott Ping, who was hoping this legislation would’ve been introduced previously.

“A few years ago, we made the change to ban smoking and I was hoping we would do the whole boardwalk at that time,” Ping said. “We ended up with designated areas and a beach full of butts.”

Smoking is already banned in parks and recreational areas. Language of the ordinance was amended to ensure it would be banned at the 29th Street Playground, as well. The playground was opened last month as part of the Sandy Ground Project.

If the proposed ordinance reaches second reading, smoking would be banned on the boardwalk beginning in mid-July.

J G June 14, 2014 at 08:44 AM
Guess it’s time to stop selling alcohol in restaurants to anyone that does not have a ride home. It has been shown one drink impairs a person’s ability to drive. When somebody has even one drink and gets behind the wheel they are affecting my health, and it won’t take years to see the results, it will be sudden and dramatic.
Mike G June 14, 2014 at 08:45 AM
I respect people's rights and I and my family have the right not to be subjected to second-hand smoke. I hope Council continues with the next logical step which would be to ban smoking (cigar and cigarette) on our family beaches
Pat June 14, 2014 at 09:47 AM
Ban it.....it does offend some but even more concerning to me is the possibility of a Boardwalk fire ignited by a careless smoker. While we are at it lets ban banning things!!! Then there would be no need for politicians anymore!
Carolyn Lothian June 15, 2014 at 05:30 PM
Congratulations to the Council!!! This is long overdue. It is gratifying to know that the Council is concerned with the health hazard of second hand smoke. We especially hope that smoking on the beach will be banned permanently as well for the same reasons. Nothing worse than going to the beach to relax and breathe in the salt air than gulping cigarette smoke instead. Anyone who has ever done beach cleanup can testify to the hundreds of cigarette butts we pick up. Smokers use the beach as their ashtray. As far as designating smoking sections, please remember that smoke doesn't read signs!!!
OCnjOC June 15, 2014 at 05:43 PM
You have to have some kind of mental problem if someone smoking on the beach bothers you unless it is being blown right in your face. The boardwalk it can be annoying is someone in front of you is smoking and it goes in your face but other than that, who cares? The cigarette butts on the beach are mostly caused by storm drain runoff, not people smoking on the beach. The arguments for a ban are mostly hyperbole and rants from mentally ill people about "saving the children."

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