WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Wrightsville Beach is one step closer to enforcing a smoking ban.
During a special meeting Thursday, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to put the ban to a public vote.
Taking the butts off the beach has been a long-term effort for Danielle Richardet, who has collected tens of thousands of washed up cigarettes and helped organize a petition that led aldermen to bring a smoking ban to a public vote.
“The ball is rolling and something is going to happen with this,” Richardet says. “I am excited either way. I'll be out all summer cleaning the beach and Surf Rider will be out rallying everyone to get to the polls so I think it's going to be an exciting election.”
If approved in November, Wrightsville Beach would become the first beach in North Carolina to prohibit smoking. But even if it does pass, some say the town would have issues enforcing the ban.
A smoking ban can only be enforced on town-controlled property. Colin Eagles, who lives in Wrightsville Beach, says the defining line between town and state property changes with the tides.
“It's going to be impossible,” says Eagles. “If you go out there at low tide and you're in the area that's dry below where it had been wet at high tide, then you're on a section of the beach where there is no smoking ban and the town has no authority to impose one.”
Though the ban could be a landmark ordinance for the state, Eagles says it's just not worth it.
“If you leave your cigarette butt, you can be fined $250 today,” he says. “We don't need an ordinance to deal with that.”
Aldermen voted 3-2 against the proposed ban ordinance. If the ban passes smokers who light up on the beach could be given a $250 fine.