CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) – After hearing from a number of residents during a public hearing Tuesday night, Carolina Beach Town Council voted to instruct it's staff to begin writing an ordinance to enact a smoking ban on some areas of the beach.
Town leaders will vote whether or not to adopt the ordinance during another public hearing in August once the ordinance is written.
Councilman Lonnie Lashley originally brought up the idea after hearing a few complaints about used cigarettes littering the beach. He proposed a public discussion to gather better feedback from the community.
Several residents showed up Tuesday night to speak to council on both sides of the issue. However, most people were overwhelmingly in favor of the potential smoking ban, but there were some who disagree.
Donald Cotta has been living here for a year and a half, he says "Carolina Beach has a live and let live attitude and this is a melting pot for people all over the country. I'm getting tired of being told by the government what I can and can't do as a tax paying citizen."
Cotta added, "I think our police and lifeguards have enough to do without being saddled with another ordinance to enforce."
Another Carolina Beach resident, Brenda Armes said, "It is litter. It's not trash, it's toxic waste. I don't care if you smoke on the beach but I care what you leave on our beach. If the only way to keep our beach clean is to ban smoking, then we should ban it."
Jack Stanton said, "This is an enforcement issue that cannot be enforced. I propose that the council table this issue and see how this works in Wrightsville Beach."
3 of the 5 council members expressed their support for the idea, so at an August meeting, town leaders will vote on the proposed smoking ban ordinance.
This is the second beach in New Hanover County to consider a ban of this kind. Town leaders in Wrightsville Beach have also been in talks about a potential smoking ban.
However, some say that the issue at hand isn't smoking – it's littering.
"I wish there was a smoking ban," said Jilda Poplin. "I've seen cigarette butts on the sand, and to me, that's repulsive."
Many are saying their rights are being violated. Smokers say instead of banning smoking, some should put cigarette trash cans on the beach.
"No one wants to carry around dirty cigarette butts, and if the receptacles are there, I think they would be used," said resident Debra Levin. "It just makes sense."
One sign at Carolina Beach reads, "Thank you for not littering," and yet, there are cigarette butts all around it. There are even cigarette butts around the trash can, which lies just a few steps away.
Mayor Ray Rothrock also agrees, saying that there are just not enough resources to enforce this ban.
"What is the priority of the police officers?" said Rothrock. "For enforcement. If it's passed, I think it will be an ordinance that will not have that much effect."
Also, banning certain areas of the beach does not mean butts will not show up in restricted areas.
Wind and water have been known to move things around.
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