The City Council will hold a public hearing at next week’s meeting as it considers a measure that would ban smoking at the city’s beaches, parks and recreational areas.
The initiative is part of a nation-wide trend, and, according to the city, there are 261 cities and counties with smoke-free beach laws and 1,263 with smoke-free park laws. The hearing is scheduled for May 3 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
In 2014, Nassau County banned smoking in its parks, as authorized by County Executive Edward Mangano. Playgrounds and other recreational areas in county parks were included in the smoke-free areas, as well as on athletic fields and throughout county preserves. Suffolk County passed a local law in 2012 with similar safety goals in mind, and now Long Beach is seeking legislation of its own.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit the sale, use or possession of “any cigarette, cigar, pipe or electronic cigarette/smoking and/or inhalation device which creates an aerosol or vapor, in any park or recreation area,” including any portion of beach or boardwalk in Ocean Beach Park.
City Council President Len Torres said that cigarette butts damage not only wildlife, but also the new boardwalk, and added that the city is hoping to enact the legislation to spare Long Beach residents from second-hand smoke this spring and summer.
“It’s pretty much a clear fact that it is very deleterious to your health and we think that it’s not a good thing for little kids to be exposed to: smoking and not practicing good habits.”
Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said that he supports the measure, and is confident the resolution to amend the city’s code of ordinances will be approved after the hearing.
“I believe society has become intolerant of it,” Tangney said. “…As an avid beachgoer, I do not like when I have to smell second-hand smoke.”
Tangney said that the city hires summer specials, mostly college students majoring in criminal justice, to patrol the beach each year, and added that they would largely be responsible for making sure the no-smoking rules are followed.
Torres added that the limited number of special officers along the city’s beaches would not be able to enforce it alone, and that residents would have to cooperate if the new ordinance is approved.
“We know that the majority of people believe in this,” Torres said. “Lots of smoking is damaging the boardwalk…and we are hoping that people self-enforce.”
Last year, 207 people signed a petition on Change.org calling for a smoking ban in Long Beach parks, beaches, the boardwalk and Kennedy Plaza.
“…One smoker can ruin the enjoyment of an entire area for other people with a stinky cancer stick,” Long Beach resident Rachel Miller posted on the petition’s page. “Let [them] smoke in their own homes, the streets belong to everyone.”