Smoking Banned on Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

REHOBOTH BEACH — Smoking will be banned effective May 15, 2014 for the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Bandstand area and city parks, and limited to designated smoking areas on the beach.

The Rehoboth Beach commissioners and mayor voted on the ban during a special meeting Monday. Commissioner Stan Mills said the ban was proposed to reduce litter, pollution and health risks.

Mills, who has spearheaded the anti-smoking initiative, said he did not expect the city’s police department to enforce the new ordinance with a heavy hand, hoping 99 percent of people would willingly comply. For those who do not, there would be a $25 civil fine.

Commissioners have been weighing the ban since January, when Mills first made a proposal. Commissioner Mark Hunker was absent.

For resident Steve Curson, who began circulating a petition requesting a ban in September, the move isn’t the total measure he hoped for, but certainly a step toward his goal. “I can live with that,” Curson said. “I’m very pleased they moved as quickly as they did.”

The initiative would be funded using $12,000 currently in the budget to update signs, along with an additional $9,000 in city funds. The city also hopes to get $10,000 through a grant from the American Lung Association. Mills said he sent in a proposal to the group, which was tentatively approved for up to $15,000.

The ban will not include e-cigarettes, which Mayor Sam Cooper argued was in line with the purpose of the proposal. “The premise of this ordinance fits that. There’s no litter, you use it over and over again, and there’s no smoke,” Cooper said.

During the summer season, there would be no more than 20 designated smoking areas along the beach, no nearer than 40 feet from entrances. The areas would be indicated by a sign and include a cigarette disposal container. Smoking would be allowed in a semi-circle within a 12-foot radius of the sign. From Oct. 1-April 30, designated smoking areas along the beach will drop down to four.

The ordinance defines the beach as “the area of the city east of Ocean Drive, Surf Avenue and the boardwalk, extending 100 yards east of the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean, excluding the parking lot in the area known as Deauville Beach.” For the ordinance, the boardwalk area is defined as including city areas just west of the physical boardwalk. The bandstand area is defined to include the sidewalks, streets and bandstand east of where the bandstand plaza begins.

In carrying out the ban, which will rely primarily on voluntary compliance, Mills said spreading the word through the media, partners and city employees will be essential. “Education is the key to voluntary compliance,” Mills said.

---article by Rachael pacella,

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