Officials in Dewey Beach have banned smoking in the town’s most popular outdoor sites – the beach and town parks.
Dewey Beach Town Council voted unanimously May 11 to approve an ordinance aimed at addressing public health and environmental pollution by making smoking on the beach or in a public park a civil offense.
Before the vote, Mayor Diane Hanson said she received strong public support for the ban. She said 65 people contacted her in favor of the ordinance; only 17 people contacted her in opposition to it.
No one testified against the ban at the May 11 town council meeting.
A grant from the American Lung Association will cover the cost of smoking receptacles, and the town’s trash collector volunteered to empty the receptacles free of charge, Hanson said.
Deb Brown, from the ALA, attended the meeting to offer the association’s support for the ban. Brown said the association would include Dewey Beach on its website in a list of smoke-free beaches.
Regardless of whether smoking is done indoors or outdoors, second-hand smoke is a health risk, especially for children, Brown said. “Their lungs are still developing, and they breathe a bit deeper than the rest of us,” she said.
The ALA grant money is available for the first year of the ban. The association receives its grant money from the Division of Public Health, Brown said, and grants for future years will likely be available to the town.
Town Hall employee Mary Dunmyer designed signs that will be posted at every beach entrance, which inform visitors there is no smoking beyond the street entrance to the beach.
Police Chief Sam Mackert said Dewey Beach Patrol would most likely enforce the ban. If a person is smoking and refuses to comply with the ordinance, a lifeguard could contact the police department for assistance.
Hanson said she expects voluntary compliance with the measure.
According to the ordinance, anyone found smoking on the beach or in a public park would be subject to a fine. “Fines will be doubled for anyone who deposits or throws butts onto the dunes,” the ordinance says.
The amount of the fine is not specified in the ordinance.