Smoke-Free Beach Streets Pitched For Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council have voiced a consensus to move forward in creating smoke-free areas on the beach by next summer.

Terry Steimer of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and chair of the Ocean City “Leave Only Your Footprints” campaign received permission this week from the Mayor and City Council to continue a program to place cigarette butt cans along the resort’s beach and Boardwalk.

In the last year, the foundation has initiated a pilot program to place cigarette butt cans along the beach and Boardwalk to educate smokers in the responsible areas to smoke.

Out of the 200 cans that were placed, there are 136 that remain due to being lost in weather or stolen. Out of those cans 69,000 butts have been collected.

“We thought the program was successful and we hope to continue with it,” Steimer said.

Once the council agreed to the continuation of the program, Mayor Rick Meehan asserted that cigarette butts on the beach have become a bigger issue than what the collection efforts can solve.

“I know we have many discussions up here about our beach and Boardwalk and what we should do and what we shouldn’t do but if you really want to look environmentally at the big picture, and that’s what we have always done, right now we are trying to direct people to certain areas to smoke and its resulting in minimal success. Any success is good but its minimal,” Meehan said.

A public hearing was held in December of 2010 when a ban on smoking on Ocean City’s beaches, Boardwalk and public parks was last debated.

A handful of speakers spoke for and against the question, but the current council decided to place butt cans and signage along the beach and the Boardwalk, providing smokers with smoking stations. It does not mandate smokers do it there, but it serves as a request for them to smoke within that area. As for public parks, the council voted to prohibit smoking in those areas.

“Probably the only way that you can direct people to certain areas so that they can use these containers is that if they weren’t able to smoke in the other areas, and I think it is a conversation we need to have again,” Meehan said. “Making our beach a smoke-free beach at some point in time is going to become a reality and I just think that’s the way our country is going and that is probably a good thing.”

The mayor proposed that between now and next summer the conversation be held and suggested to perhaps start out with having restrictive smoking areas where the cigarette butt cans will really come into play.

“In the long run, it might create some growing pains and some anxiety for some, as many other things have as we have grown over the years to become what I think is the best family beach resort anywhere, but I think it is where people expect us to be at some point in time,” he said.

Steimer respectfully disagreed with the mayor pointing out that the cigarette butt can program was only entering its second year and suggested to allow the program to continue for a few more years before more serious steps are taken.

“I thought we collected a significant amount of butts for the first year, and I think it is way too early to make that determination at this point in time,” he said.

According to Steimer, St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as the Virginia Natural Resources Department, researched this area before as far as smoking on the beach and found that if the town provides smoking areas than it will help those people who are aggravated with smokers being next to them and the people who smoke because they are already attuned to restricted to certain areas throughout the United States.

Council President Jim Hall agreed with the mayor saying the smoking on the beach has become a bad example for children as well as offensive to non-smokers.

“The world has gone a long way to get rid of smoking in restaurants and bars … and I would hope one day we would try to develop at least very soon some areas that were smoke free,” Jim Hall said using the example of establishing certain streets on the beach as smoke-free.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas hoped to have the discussion sooner than later.

“I would like to put it to the voter actually,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind it being a referendum question. Do we want to go smoke free or do we want to do designated areas?”

Councilman Joe Hall also agreed with the mayor’s position to hold a future discussion and suggested the town start by restricting smokers to the west of the lifeguard stands so that the area in front of the stands, where most of the children play, could be smoke free.

Council President Jim Hall asked City Manager David Recor to schedule the discussion following the summer season, sometime in October, at which time the council will review other resorts and how they enacted a smoking ban on their beaches.

“It is time to take the next step,” Meehan said. “It is time to move forward progressively to attack this problem.”

Ocean City’s neighboring resort town, Bethany Beach passed a smoking ban on its beaches and Boardwalk in 2008. The ban lasts from May 15 to Sept. 15 every year. During that time frame, smokers are provided with designated smoking areas on Bethany’s beaches.

26 thoughts on “Smoke-Free Beach Streets Pitched For Ocean City

  1. Absolutely stupid in my opinion which I’m entitled to. To vacation, sit on the beach to relax and have a cigarette is a given right. As a non-drinker, what about alcohol? I say ban all alcohol everywhere. It’s poison, and the results are well documented. So tell people no more drinking, anywhere! Every person I see on the beach has a drink, no drinking is the theme. Not working! I am a 65 year old retired Executive and frankly if I want to enjoy a cigarette sitting on the beach, this is exactly what I will do. There are so many FAT people….ban Thrashers French Fries, and stop 16oz. soda’s and shut down the pizza joints. Really fires me up…go accomplish something productive instead of trying to control people and their decisions. Maybe all should move to Russia. This is America (although of late…you have to wonder…) Don’t become a Socialist. Focus on kids out of control, under age drinking, drugs, thief, and the many clubs that are over run with under age drinkers! Smoking on the beach is the least of your problems. Vietnam Veteran 1967-1968 also, so quit messing with peoples desires. Idiots!

    • I agree 100%. Sick of smokers being taxed out our BUTTS, no pun intended and then told we can not USE our legal product that pays for children’s health care anywhere in public!

      Talk about being forced into a closet!

  2. How can some complain about second hand smoke while public works belches out second hand methane gas from 65th street?!? This stinks!

  3. Dear I.F. Turner,
    I agree with you that, in many ways, we are overcontrolled by the government. You SHOULD be able to enjoy a cigarette if you choose to expose yourself to toxic carcinogens and potentially cut your lifespan by a decade. However, you violate MY freedom to not do so if I’m sitting near you on the beach. Sitting next to a drinker or overeater will not expose me to liver cancer or heart disease. Your habit, however, exposes me and others around you to harmful secondhand smoke. I want to enjoy my vacation, too, AND the rest of my life without having to suffer with the health issues you’re willing to accept every time you light up a cig.

  4. Nobody wants to get second hand smoke lung damage from you just because you want to be a jerk and smoke on the beach so little kids have to cough smelling that crap. Just because you were a Veteran doesn’t mean that Ocean City allows you the right to smoke, because you think the world owes you everything for being a Veteran. Other Veterans don’t say let me do this because I am a veteran. Please make the smoking ban happen. The smoke on the beach is getting worse. This is why I go to Wildwood NJ sometimes, because it isn’t as bad. If you were in a house fire when you were younger mr vet maybe you would see how hard it is to have to breath countless cigerettes on the beach. I have bad asma

  5. I’m not a smoker but this infuriates me! I’m so sick of all the ridiculous rules…each one taking just a little more of our freedoms away. I can’t believe our elected officials have nothing better to accomplish than to sit around trying to figure out if someone should be permitted to sit on the beach and smoke a cigarette! Who cares??? Get a life…do something that’s actually worth doing! Find a way to CUT spending instead of spending on butt cans and police patrol of smokers on the beach!

  6. Cigarette smoke will sometimes instantly trigger a migrane headache for me and the pain is horrible. I try to avoid smokers but still have smoke blow by or walk through it going into or out of places. If you want to smoke, stay away from others, it’s a health concern. It is not ok for you to put me through several hours of pain!

  7. I’ll start by saying that I just returned home after a wonderful stay at Ocean City the entire week of July 4th. While I don’t believe smoking should be banned, I think there should be areas where the smokers can light up and not in the midst of all the other beach goers. I have to admit it was pretty unpleasant a couple of days when folks around me were smoking.

  8. Just spent a week in OCMD and again loved it. I would love to see OC completly ban smoking on the beach for two reasons. The first is the smoke, two women sitting close to my family started smoking, we had to endure the smell of their cigarettes about every 20 minutes. What right do they have to blow smoke towards my family? The second reason is that sadly many smokers consider the beach a giant ashtray and do not pickup their butts. I don’t leave trash on the beach, why should smokers be special. Please don’t give any right to smoke crap, the beach is public property to be enjoyed by the public, if you want to smoke, leave the public property.

  9. Good for OC and the council and I am a smoker. A smoking ban is inevitable, so it might as well happen now. Without question, smoking does invade the space of others. Let’s face it, we smokers are addicts and all need help!

  10. People concerned about the health risks on the beach? Second hand smoke is bad? Perhaps in the long run, but drive up and down coastal highway on any given summer day and count the number of parents forcing their children to jaywalk…a much more immediate threat to be concerned with. I applaud Mr. Steimer’s efforts for trying to keep our beach clean. We can all offer a hand to help with that. Besides, second hand smoke shouldn’t bother anyone-if you are abiding by proper beach etiquette and not plopping you & your family 3 feet from me. I am much more offended by your screaming children running & kicking sand in my face than by the smoker 15 feet away. And by you having to go across three lanes of traffic to turn at THAT light(without using a blinker), since there obviously isn’t another in 2 blocks. Enjoy your summer!

  11. Yes Ocean City should go smoke free! No smoking on the beach boardwalk, hotels, motels, bars and restaurants! I don’t want to sell it anywhere or why should my kids and I have to breath it in because your on the beach next to us and puffing like a chimney or smoke stack! Walking behind you on the boards or sitting on a balcony above or below you making our drying towels and swim suits smell like crap! SMOKE FREE OCEAN CITY MD! OC be the first to start the trend at all resorts.. Thank you

  12. im a non smokers though i smoked for years my problem is cigatettes left as trash. i say band them no one likes the smell

  13. OC is getting rediculous with all the bans on smoking. You can’t even rent a place that allows smoking. We took our business elsewhere.


  15. I also strongly support making OC a smoke-free resort. I am also a veteran who suffers from asthma. Secondhand smoke, whether on the beach or boardwalk causes my asthma to flair up. Last week, I was on the beach when someone down wind started smoking a cigar. It caused me to have a violent coughing attack and breathing problem and I had to leave the beach for medical treatments. The city’s voluntary designated smoking areas 50 feet from the butt cans is not working and people smoke wherever they want and through their dirty butts on the sand. Most smokers are inconsiderate as wll as being litterbugs. Only 15% of Maryland adults are smokers. Why should they make liife miserable for 85% of the other adults as well as all the children who have to breath in secondhand smok. MAKE OC SMOKE FREE NOW!

    • If this makes you miserable then you better rethink what your problem really is. There is so much air movement in Ocean City on the beach and boardwalk that you do not stand a chance of inhaling any of it. Sorry about your asthma As for your story about the cigar, gotta tell you, I do not believe a word of it. Smokers are not inconsiderate, we are just tired of the picky things and excuses people use to make new rules. Why not deal with real issues………oh that’s right that would take time, and some thinking. Worry about the boardwalk and the gang of kids that terrorize decent people just trying to have a good time. Worry about the pot that this state wants to legalize. Now that should really throw you into an attack. Sorry but I am just sick of the stupidy of this argument. In my town they had girl scouts blow bubbles to determine how far cigarette smoke would travel, thus banning it in all parks in the county. No problem, I just went to the next county which was minutes from my house. They lost the revenue from the concession stand, the duck food and people enjoying our beautiful parks, Girl Scouts b lowing bubbles, really????? ………. Great study by a bunch of idiots.

  16. I am a smoker and have been coming to Ocean City for 55 years. I have never once left a ciggie butt on the beach or any pool area as I always carry an ashtray in my beach bag. While I won’t like it, I am more than willing to go to a designated smoking area on the beach or boardwalk. They talk about non-smokers rights, well last time I checked I leave in a country that is all about freedom and I have rights too.

  17. My family and I have gone to Ocean City since 1974 and quit going there two years ago. The rental people are rude, drunks and trouble are everywhere. You don’t feel safe, traffic is horrendous; and you are worrying about people smoking. Now you want to ban smoking because of the second hand smoke and butts on the ground. Maybe you should direct yourselves to the vomit from the drunks and the trash thrown all over the place. Give the smokers a rest; they are the least of your problems.

  18. This is ridiculous!! I can understand taking smoking away from inside places but on the beach??!! You have got to be kidding! We are outside. By the time everything is said and done, smokers will not have the right to even smoke!! Ocean City is getting out of hand it has really become classy trash if that makes sence. It has been a trashy town, they just try to cover it up. The whole county is screwed up. I don’t see why anyone would want to vacation here honestly. It gets worse every year.

  19. I’d like to see the resurrection of the 94th Street Mall (loved playing Keno up there), ShantyTown (great for strollin around in Spring/Fall), Morbid Manor (miss watching/listening to people getting chased by the Chainsaw Man), the original inlet Buoy noise (put me to sleep when the wind was blowing from the south during the winter months), the original OC DJ Batman (too many a taxi rides home), the Wild Mouse at Trimpers (back pains to this day), Bozo the Laughing Clown (Dunk Tank on the pier – yuk yuk yuk yuk), rides on the Miss Ocean City (after dinner at sunset), Nick from Nick Idoni’s (sad time in the mid 1990’s)……

    oh my mistake – the topic is about Ciggy Butts again. Oh the days of the Maryland Tobacco industry….
    Lots of very interesting responses to a serious social subject. Its an election year and this subject will be tabled until after the “smoke” clears!


  20. I come to the beach to take in the clean air, not air from some smelly cigar.
    I feel like I’m sitting in a butt can, sometimes

    • Dan if you smell cigarette smoke when you are on the beach you probably are sitting on the butt can. It is just another division of people. I will bet you there has never been one real study done that smoking outside causes anything, not pollution, not illness to anyone other than the smoker. As big as the ocean is I am sure that you can find a place where you do not smell anyone’s smoke. I find the attire at the beach offensive, I do not drink and I find drinking offensive, but more than that I find people that make up ridiculous reasons to ban smoking in outdoor places the most offensive because there is no fact to base their argument. People worry about kids seeing it ,you better be worried about those teens that are on spice and other drugs, worry about kids seeing that. Actually I do not drink, but really don’t find people that do on the beach offensive, but you can’t even do that in Ocean City. Next they will ban feeding the sea gulls.

  21. The day that I cannot relax on the beach in Ocean City on my beach chair and have a cigarette is the day I quit vacationing in Ocean City which I do every year. Second hand smoke may be harmful in a closed area but the ocean breeze will take care of any chance of someone inhaling your cigarette smoke. Not to mention if women can run around with their butts hanging out and nothing more than a g string holding it on and children see this you are worried about second hand smoke. Really? Lets get real here. It is not about kids, it is about more govt. control over things they have no business controlling. Be glad that people still come to Ocean City with the high Maryland tax on the room and the ridiculous prices that are charged for a 2 night stay, the fact that you can’t have your dog on the beach at any time even in the evening, that you are not allowed to have a grill, or anything on the beach. I grew up in NJ with bondfires, cookouts on the beach the whole bit. This is the state of NO, so just be glad that people still come here without any more restrictions.

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