SCARBOROUGH – The Scarborough Town Council last week voted to consider adopting a provision to ban smoking on all town-owned beaches.
The proposal was brought forward by Black Point Road resident Sharman Kivatisky, who said the town should follow the lead of the Legislature, which last year banned smoking at all state beaches.
"This would help to improve the beauty of the public beaches," she said. "The state of Maine has banned smoking at their parks and beaches, I think we would do well to follow their lead."
The four members of the council present at the meeting - Ronald Ahlquist and Jessica Holbrook were absent - voted unanimously to pass the idea on to the Ordinance Committee, which will review the item at its next meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28.
At last week's meeting, Kivatisky said she knows firsthand the smoking practices of beachgoers. She said she lived at Higgins Beach for nine years and now frequents Ferry Beach at Prout's Neck because it is closer to her residence. Both beaches, she said, tend to fill up quickly, especially at high tide, making second-hand smoke a real problem.
"While they think it is OK to smoke because they are outside, there is a lot of second-hand smoke," she said.
Smoking at the beach is not only a health concern for beachgoers, Kivatisky said, but for the animals and environment as well.
"People tend to throw their [cigarette] butts right in the sand," she said. "They are not biodegradable and are a hazard to the wildlife."
Cigarette butts on beach are so much of a problem, she said, that it is often times the item found most during coastal cleanup efforts. Smoking has been an issue at other Maine beaches, as well. Due to the amount of cigarette butts and other trash at Raymond Beach, the Raymond Board of Selectmen decided to close the beach in August.
Officials in Ogunquit have, in recent months, discussed banning smoking on the town beach in that coastal community. Earlier this year, the York Board of Selectmen passed an anti-smoking resolution. Abiding by the resolution, however, is voluntary.
Town Clerk Tody Justice said the committee will "pull together an ordinance or a policy" to present to the Town Council. The town staff, she said, may also be asked to check in with other communities to see if they have such a ban on the books or if the Maine Municipal Association has some sort of a model ordinance Scarborough could apply locally.