Ocean City Today

No smoking ... and this time we mean it

By Katie Tabeling | Jul 06, 2017

(July 7, 2017) Now that the Boardwalk smoking ban is in its second year, Ocean City Police have issued more tickets in the first weeks of summer.

Altogether, 52 citations were issued to smokers on the boards as of June 30, according to Police Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay Richard.

“Officers are taking a stricter enforcement approach rather than focusing on education,” Richard said. “Signage has continued to improve each year and we feel as if our residents and visitors should be aware of the ordinance by now.”

The smoking ban was imposed by the City Council in May 2015 as a health initiative and a way to keep the Boardwalk air clean and the beaches free from cigarette butts. The ban also applies to cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes and other substances that contain tobacco.

That summer, dozens of orange metal barrels were put on the place for a designated smoking zone. Beachgoers can light up or vape within 15 feet of each barrel. Signs were also installed on the beach that read, “Enjoy our smoke-free Boardwalk.”

In the first year, the police followed an “education first” policy and warned visitors before issuing a $100 fine. In 2016, police kept the approach until the police commission ordered them to issue more citations and fewer warnings in July.

As a result, tickets jumped from 12 to 79 by the end of the year.

This spring, the council grappled with ordering Ocean City Police to ticket violators without discretion. Ultimately, it let officers use discretion when enforcing the law, but ordered for an aggressive approach this year. Signs on the Boardwalk now say “Smoking & vaping are prohibited! Enjoy our smoke-free Boardwalk.” There are roughly 300 signs throughout town, according to Public Works Maintenance Director Tom Dy.

Although the statistics show more smokers on the beach, Richard said police issuing tickets to the few that don’t obey the law.

“Despite the increase in issued citations, however, we have been seeing overall compliance, considering our town hosts nearly 300,000 people at any given time,” she said.


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