SCARBOROUGH — Smoking on town beaches is now against the law.
The Town Council voted 4-2 Wednesday, with Councilors Jessica Holbrook and Richard Sullivan opposed, to ban the use of tobacco products on all town-owned beaches, including Pine Point, Ferry and Higgins beaches.
“I think the time has come,” Councilor Michael Wood said. “It’s been many years. I think smokers have been able to adapt and this is not an unexpected initiative.”
Violations of the ordinance can result in fines of up to $500.
Councilors who opposed the amendment were in favor of a resolution that would have made compliance with the rules voluntary.
“To go as far as making this an ordinance with fines and penalties, I just don’t see that it’s in the benefit of most of the public and Police Department,” Sullivan said.
Holbrook said she wanted to wait until the town designated smoking areas before the ban is put in place.
“What I’m looking to gain by this is some time to incorporate those designated areas,” she said.
After the vote, she indicated she would like to see the town move quickly, so people know where they can smoke.
Holbrook proposed an amendment to remove from the ban on tobacco products that are not smoked, including snuff, dip and chewing tobacco. That amendment failed 4-2, again with Holbrook and Sullivan in the minority. As a result, all tobacco products are banned on the beaches.
The ordinance revision was introduced after citizens complained that smokers were leaving used cigarette butts on the beaches and that second-hand smoke was affecting beach-goers’ health and ability to enjoy the beach.
“I’m ecstatic,” said resident Sharman Kivatisky, who initially suggested the smoking ban to the council last year. “This is going to be a real positive change for our beaches.”
Last week the Environmental Club of Scarborough did a cleanup on Pine Point Beach, club adviser Terri Eddy said during the meeting.
“They picked up 1,000 cigarette butts and trash,” she said. “Each butt takes about 15 years to decompose.”
Eddy read letters from Melanie Grover and Patrick Snowden, two members of a Scarborough High School club who were away for April vacation, asking the council to approve the change. Members of the club have turned out regularly for Ordinance Committee and council meetings to show their support for the ban.
“The kids are going to be thrilled when they hear about this,” Eddy said after the meeting.
Healthy Maine Partnerships has offered to provide the town with free signs and an educational campaign to let people know about the ban, which begins this summer.
Scarborough Beach State Park became smoke-free in 2009, when state law was changed to ban cigarette smoking on beaches in all of Maine’s state parks. Portland and Westbrook also have smoking bans on town beaches.
Smoking is also already banned in town parks, recreation areas and on school grounds in Scarborough.