OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously on first reading, with no discussion, to ban smoking in public parks and playgrounds.
The ordinance defines “environmental tobacco smoke” as the complex mixture formed from escaping smoke of a burning tobacco product or smoke exhaled by the smoker. “Smoking” means the burning of a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco.
The ordinance reads, “It is the intent of the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City to protect the public and its employees from involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in certain areas open to the public.”
Public parks include Ocean Bowl Skate Park, Ocean City Tennis Center at 61st Street and Coastal Highway, and playgrounds in the following parks, Bayside Park (aka Downtown Recreation Complex), Robin Park, Little Salisbury Park, Northside Park, Gorman Park, and North Surf Park.
Any person who violates the law “shall be subject to ejection from the public park and be subject to a municipal infraction of up to $500.00, which can be issued by an employee of the Department of recreation and parks in addition to enforcers listed in this code.”
The smoking ban at public parks and playgrounds was originally discussed last December during a public hearing to ban smoking on Ocean City’s boardwalk, beach, and public parks. The council voted not to ban smoking on the Boardwalk or the beach. Instead, council officials decided to create designated smoking stations as an “educational step” for smokers.
During the hearing, Councilman Joe Hall said as far as the “kiddy parks” are concerned he proposed smoking be prohibited in those areas. He made a motion to create voluntary smoking areas on the beach and Boardwalk and restrict smoking in public parks. Councilman Doug Cymek seconded the motion and the council voted unanimously to approve it.