July 13, 2012

The Worldwide Trend Towards Banning Smoking on the Beach

Next month, the Carolina Beach Town Council will decide whether to ban smoking on certain beach areas in Carolina Beach.  If passed, Carolina Beach would be the first beach in North Carolina to pass the ban.  

Two other neighboring beach towns are also looking at the issue.  In Wrightsville Beach, the voters will get to decide if they want to initiate a ban in this year's November elections.  And in Kure Beach, they just announced today that they will begin looking into the issue.

As each council person and voter weighs the merits of a ban, I thought it would be interesting to look around and see what other beach locations have banned smoking.  Obviously the amount of data is bit overwhelming, but here is a small sampling of some of the articles I came across:

The list from the United States was actually larger than I anticipated:  Listing of all municipalities with Smokefree Beach Laws (as of July 1, 2012).

Here is an interesting research paper from the Laboratory for Coastal Research (dated January 2012) discussing the pros and cons of banning smoking on beaches.  No-Smoking Policies and Their Outcomes on U.S. Beaches

Lastly, an argument being made against the ban in Carolina Beach is that legally, the town would only be able to enforce the ban to the high tide line because beyond that, the town has no legal authority.  The thought is that smokers will just smoke in ankle deep water which will ultimately lead to even more butts being discarded in the ocean.  It might happen but the offender would be subject to NC law if they do indeed discard the butt into the water.

North Carolina has two separate statutes that could cover anyone who illegally throws their butts into the ocean waters.

First:  § 14‑399. Littering.
(a) No person, including any firm, organization, private corporation, or governing body, agents or employees of any municipal corporation shall intentionally or recklessly throw, scatter, spill or place or intentionally or recklessly cause to be blown, scattered, spilled, thrown or placed or otherwise dispose of any litter upon any public property or private property not owned by the person within this State or in the waters of this State including any public highway, public park, lake, river, ocean, beach, campground, forestland, recreational area, trailer park, highway, road, street or alley except:


Second: § 76‑40. Navigable waters; certain practices regulated.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to place, deposit, leave or cause to be placed, deposited or left, either temporarily or permanently, any trash, refuse, rubbish, garbage, debris, rubble, scrapped vehicle or equipment or other similar waste material in or upon any body of navigable water in this State; "waste material" shall not include spoil materials lawfully dug or dredged from navigable waters and deposited in spoil areas designated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; violation of this section shall constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor.

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