Ocean City Council Finalizes Beach, Boardwalk Smoking Ordinance

OCEAN CITY –It is final. Smoking on the beach and Boardwalk is restricted to designated smoking areas in Ocean City.

An ordinance to amend Chapter 30 of the City Code titled Entitled Environment to restrict the use of tobacco or nicotine smoke and vapor to designate smoking areas came before the Mayor and City Council on Monday evening for final approval.

The ordinance states, “It is the intent of the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City to protect the public from involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and vapor in certain areas open to the public.”

The ordinance lists smoking and vaping being illegal in public parks including Ocean Bowl Skate Park, Ocean City Tennis Center on 61st St. and Coastal Hwy., the playgrounds at Bayside Park also known as the Downtown Recreation Complex, the tennis courts on 3rd St., Robin Park, Little Salisbury Park, Northside Park, Gorman Park, North Surf Park and Sunset Park.

The ordinance also states, smoking and vaping is illegal on Atlantic Avenue except within 15 feet of designated smoking areas. Designated smoking locations will be located on the beach at each street from the Inlet to the Delaware line with a few exceptions, and marked with proper receptacles for discarding cigarette butts.

Atlantic Avenue is defined as being comprised of the beach, including the ramps, wooden railings, the Boardwalk, concrete tram lane, ramps extending westward and eastward from the Boardwalk, decks extending eastward and westward from the Boardwalk, the seawall, tables, benches but excluding the Inlet Parking Lot.

The ordinance also includes smoking and vaping being illegal within a bus shelter or within 15 feet thereof. The law sets the maximum penalty to a municipal infraction of up to $500 if found smoking or vaping in any unlawful area.

The Mayor and City Council voted 5-0 to approve the ordinance in its second reading with council members Wayne Hartman and Matthew James absent.

“To everybody, a job well done. We all came together and did a great job,” Council President Lloyd Martin said.

Mayor Rick Meehan also commended staff and the council in passing the ordinance.

“There was very little controversy over this ordinance,” he said. “Moving forward, we will hit some bumps along the way, and I know I will be receiving a lot of emails this summer but hopefully it will move forward smoothly. After the first year everybody should become acclimated.”

Last April, the Mayor and Council first broached the smoking ban issue and voted 5-2 to restrict smoking on the beach effective May 1, 2015 and directed staff to prepare an implementation plan. The resulting plan presented in January included a designated smoking area on the beach near each street end from the Inlet to the Delaware line, and an outright ban on the Boardwalk is planned with smokers being asked to head to the designated sites on the beach to smoke. The recommendation also included Electronic Smoking Devices (ESDs), also known as vaping, which have proliferated recently.

The designated smoking areas on the beach will include bright orange receptacles with lids that display the town’s new restricted smoking logo. There will be one receptacle per street located on the beach east of the sea wall in the Boardwalk area and 50 feet north of the street end and east of and 50 feet north of the dune entrances in the area north of the Boardwalk.

The receptacles, signage and educational materials associated with implementing the new smoking policy comes with a price tag of around $40,000. The Maryland Cancer Fund has awarded the town a one-time grant of $18,762 for materials, and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has committed the balance of the cost.