The Rehoboth Beach commissioners are set to vote on a measure banning smoking on the beach, Boardwalk, Bandstand and in all city parks at a special meeting Monday, March 10.
Drafted by Commissioner Stan Mills, the ordinance would create designated smoking areas whose locations would be determined by the city manager.
The designated areas would be at the foot of the dunes away from the dune crossings and would have signs and cigarette disposal containers. Smokers would only be allowed to smoke within a 12-foot radius of the signs. The ordinance specifies that from May 1 to Sept. 30, there will be no more than 20 permitted smoking areas. For the rest of the year, there will be no more than four.
Violators of the ordinance would be subject to a $25 fine that would escalate if unpaid to $50. If passed, the smoking ban would be effective May 15.
Mills said the cost to implement the ban – which would include paying for signs and cigarette disposal cans – would be $25,000, although much of that would come from a grant from the American Lung Association and money already budgeted for smoke-free inititatives. Ultimately, the city would only need to authorize $4,000 to $7,000 in new spending to cover the costs of implementation, Mills said.
Mills said education was the key to getting people to comply and urged communicating with residents and visitors using the city website and the city parking guide as well as other resources.
In anticipation the measure will pass, the commissioners gave City Manager Sharon Lynn the go-ahead to work with Mills on preparing a purchase order for the signs and disposal cans. Mills came to the Feb. 21 meeting with a mockup of what the signs could look like.
Mayor Sam Cooper said he thinks the ordinance will pass and he is generally supportive of it. He said he is not a big fan of having more signs around the city, preferring more openness and less clutter, but he understands why the signs are needed.
Commissioner Toni Sharp said she was supportive of the ordinance. She said of the correspondence she has received, 98 percent is in support with only a couple opposed.
“I want to make sure we can accommodate where we can and make sure it aligns with what the majority of the community wants to see us do,” Sharp said.