Smoking on Rehoboth Beach and its Boardwalk will likely be banned before the summer season begins.
A first draft of an ordinance to ban smoking on the beach, Boardwalk, Bandstand and in all city parks will be unveiled at the Rehoboth commissioners’ Friday, Feb. 21 regular meeting, with passage likely Friday, March 21 or at a specially scheduled meeting.
City code already bans smoking at tot lots and most park areas. The new ordinance would extend the smoking ban to include Lake Gerar Park, the Rehoboth Beach Museum grounds near Grove Park and the Bandstand, Boardwalk and beaches. The beach and Boardwalk ban would encompass all access ways, restrooms, information kiosks and dune crossings, Commissioner Stan Mills said. The ordinance would be enforced year-round.
Mills said smoking will be permitted at designated smoking areas near the beach; the number and location of the areas is still to be determined, Mills said. Signs would indicate where smoking is permitted and butt disposal bins would be provided, he said.
Mills, who is writing the ordinance, said it is based on Bethany Beach’s regulations, except it would be a year-round ban, not seasonal. Mills said a year-round ban will reduce litter, cut down on secondhand smoke and reduce toxins from cigarette butts. Mills took up the issue after receiving a petition from Rehoboth resident Steve Curson that garnered 300 in-person signatures.
“What they are going to do is better than nothing. Let’s get it done,” Curson said. “I’m really happy about it. I’m surprised it took a private citizen to get it started.”
Mills said his fellow commissioners seem to be on board with the ordinance, and it has a good chance of passage.
At the commissioners’ Feb. 10 workshop, Commissioner Bill Sargent said a year-round ban on smoking in the parks, beach and Boardwalk was the easiest sell to the public.
Commissioner Patrick Gossett said he was concerned with how the ban will be communicated.
“This would a major change in the way we’ve done business in Rehoboth,” he said.
Commissioner Lorraine Zellers supported the ban and strongly championed including the Bandstand.
Carol Everhart, CEO and President of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber board supports the ban.
Mills said he hopes the ordinance passes sooner rather than later to give time for education and to allow the city to purchase signs and receptacles.