WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — For the second time in two years, Wrightville Beach denied a smoking ban.
“Wrightsville Beach took two steps backwards in terms of democracy goes,” said Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti. “When you receive emails from over 200 residents, have over 400 residents with the zip code supporting it, it was overwhelmingly for.”
In spite of numerous emails, signed petitions, samples from the beach, and a packed house Thursday night, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen rejected a smoking ban at the ordinance. Cignotti says the board did not listen to the people of the town when making its decision.
“I think when you’re elected to office, that you put your personal opinions aside and you listen to your constituents,” said Cignotti. “This was overwhelmingly for, so I’m disappointed.”
Supporters of the smoking ban say denying the ban is a missed opportunity for the community.
“It’s a sad night for Wrightsville Beach,” said smoking ban supporter Tim Taylor. “We could have been one of the predominant beaches in North Carolina. We would have been the first beach to be smoke free but right now we’re just like every other beach.”
Opponents say the way the laws were written would put too much stress on an already stretched police department. Some also argued that a less confusing ordinance needed to be considered.
“The way the ordinance is written, it is only enforceable above the high tide line,” said opponent Colin Eagles. “At low tide, over half of the beach, the ordinance would not apply. That is absurd.”
Those working to keep the beach clean say they will not stop their efforts even though the ban was not put into place. They say the will continue to speak up for what they believe in until their voices are heard and respected, which they say may have to wait until election season.