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City looking to mimic beach smoking policy in pub. parks

(June 19, 2015) The Ocean City Council voted this week to begin codifying a proposal that would have smoking regulations in city parks mimic the recently enacted smoking policy for the beach.

The council voted unanimously to move forward with an ordinance that will ban smoking in all city parks with the exception of Northside Park, where two designated smoking areas will be provided — one for the park’s indoor recreation building and one for the softball field complex.

As is the case with the new beach smoking policy instituted last month smoking or vaping would be forbidden outside of a 15-foot radius from marked butt receptacles.

The proposal was vetted through the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

“This mimics the policy on the beach and Boardwalk,” said Councilman and Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Dennis Dare. “Our discussion led to the fact that people are in the building in Northside Park who are smokers, and they’re going to go out to the curb. This proposed location is not far from the curb, and hopefully it’ll contain the litter. If you just went smoke-free and didn’t provide for it, you would just end up with the litter problem.”

The same theory applies to a can to be placed at the outdoor sports fields, where many spectators smoke.

“I’m not a fan of smoking in the park, but with the softball teams and so forth, if you don’t provide an area, you’re going to have a litter issue somewhere else,” said Councilman Wayne Hartman.

As with all ordinances, the policy will have to go through two public readings before becoming law.

“I would personally like to see the park go smoke-free at some point, but this is a good first step,” said Council Secretary Mary Knight.

Currently, the city’s code prohibits smoking only at the Ocean Bowl Skate Park and the 61st Street Tennis Center. The clause also lists specific playgrounds at other parks, but has not been updated in some time.

As of May 1, smoking or vaping became illegal on all public property within 15 feet of the Boardwalk, or anywhere on the beach outside of a 15-foot radius from marked receptacles.

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