By Ron Matz

OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ)—If you enjoy a cigarette on the beach in Ocean City you may not be able to light up there soon. The City Council is considering a ban.

Ron Matz has more on the proposal and the controversy in Maryland’s most popular resort.

Eight million people visit Ocean City every year. During the summer, the beach is jam-packed. For some it’s a chance to grab a smoke, but that could change.

“This is very disturbing to a lot of people. I don’t like it personally when I’m on the beach,” said Brent Ashley, Ocean City councilman.

If Ocean City Councilman Ashley has his way, smoking on the beach will soon be illegal.

“We get complaints about the secondhand smoke. People who use the beach don’t want their kids to be exposed to the secondhand smoke,” Ashley said.

From City Hall to the boardwalk, the debate in the resort is hot and heavy.

“I have a granddaughter and you know I don’t want her around smoke, so I think it’s a good idea for just the health reasons,” said Nathan Jester, Ocean City resident.

But others say an outright ban on smoking goes too far.

“I don’t think it would actually be that bad out here on the beach with all the open air and stuff,” said Richard Rinker, Ocean City resident.

If you’re told to butt out, the town would have to figure out the cost of new signage and how the police would enforce the new ban. Delaware’s state beaches, Dewey, Rehoboth and Fenwick, are smoke-free.

Bethany has a seasonal ban. Ocean City could be next, although some business owners are expected to oppose the idea.

“We’re going to gain far more people who would appreciate a smoke-free environment than we would lose,” Ashley said.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says the smoking ban proposal will likely come up at the City Council’s next work session on April 16.

If Ocean City officials choose to pass new smoke-free legislation, you could face a fine if you light up on the beach.

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