By Matthew Tievsky
On Tuesday, August 26th the Ocean City, Maryland, Town Council voted to draft a law restricting
smoking on its beaches and boardwalks. The restrictions will go into effect
this spring on May 1st. The Town Council is currently considering partial restrictions, which
would limit smoking to designated areas. 150 metal cigarette receptacles
would be placed at all street beach entrances and certain points along
the boardwalk. Smoking would only be allowed within 50 feet of these receptacles.
Violators would potentially face a written warning or a citation with
a fine ranging anywhere from $25 to $1,000. The high end of the fine is
for the "worse-case scenario" where people have multiple violations.
This law does not ban e-cigarettes, rather it only bans tobacco based products.
Ocean City Communications Manager, Jessica Waters, says that the city's
concern is "first and foremost environmental." She also says
"we certainly have the health concerns about smoke and second-hand
smoke, but we don't want to alienate our visitors."
Ocean City Town Council Member Brent Ashley voted against the ordinance
because he believes that it does not go far enough. He points to Rehoboth
as a successful example of a complete ban, which was implemented this
past spring. He says, "I think vacationers are looking for pristine
beaches. To me it's confusing and convoluted. What my colleagues are
talking about is making it a partially pristine beach." Mr. Ashley
believes that the city will eventually adopt a full ban and achieve a
fully pristine beach. He does not believe that the city should waste money
adopting a moderate approach in the meantime because the cost for the
receptacles and new signage is estimated to be $17,000 - $20,000.
In a poll regarding smoking restrictions in Ocean City, 60% were in favor
of implementing restrictions. While the city's steps towards smoking
restrictions are a move in the right direction, hopefully the city will
eventually adopt a complete ban on not only tobacco based products but
also on e-cigarettes.