Is a Rehoboth smoking ban wrong-headed?

February 24, 2014

I am not a smoker except for the occasional good cigar, but I take exception with those who are giving kudos to those city leaders who are pushing for a Rehoboth Beach smoking ban. You know, every sword has a double edge. I completely agree with the ban on smoking in restaurants, planes, trains and other confined venues. A wide open beach is hardly a confined environment.

Passive smoking is the inhalation of smoke, called second-hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, by persons other than the intended active smoker. It occurs when tobacco smoke permeates any environment, causing its inhalation by people within that environment. The operative phrase here is permeates the environment. We’re talking about a beach environment here folks. The wind constantly blows off the Atlantic and immediately dissipates and disperses second hand smoke way before it permeates the immediate environment. Unless, of course, a smoker has the temerity to blow their smoke directly in the face of anyone in the vicinity, no one at the beach is at risk from their second hand smoke.

The other factor is an economic one. Has anyone in the city leadership done any kind of analysis or polling to determine what the potential negative impact a smoking ban might have on city businesses if it reduces summer visitors? Are smokers going to constantly leave their relaxing place on the beach to walk to a designated smoking area? Will they be annoyed that while attending a concert at the Bandstand they have to walk away, and miss part of the entertainment? And has anyone done a scientific study on the range and potency of second hand smoke on a wide open windy beach or board walk? Can second hand smoke really permeate an open beach environment?

I don’t deny that second hand smoke constitutes a health risk. But at some point common sense has to prevail. We are so prone now to jump on the latest politically correct hysteria that in this case it just may be blinding the city leaders to the negative impact of a Rehoboth Beach smoking ban, because of their fixation on what may be false and unproven positives. Rehoboth Beach may be better served if they rethink their position before they possibly cut off their nose to spite their face.

Steve Hyle

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