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Senate bill could snuff out smoking bans at Wrightsville Beach, CFCC

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Public smoking bans tend to spark emotions on both sides of the conversation, and that is certainly true at Wrightsville Beach, the first public beach in the state to ban smoking on the sand. Now a bill in the state Senate could send the ordinance up in smoke.

Senate Bill 703 would effectively eliminate regulations on outdoor smoking and limit how municipalities control it.

In November Wrightsville Beach voters spoke up and became first beach in the state to ban smoking by a 2-1 margin.

"Our current ban on smoking is for litter, to control litter, and it's also a health safety issue," Town Manager Tim Owens said.

But some in the state legislature are looking to snuff out the ordinances such as the one in Wrightsville Beach.

Area smokers we spoke with are fired up about SB 703, which would limit municipalities from enforcing ordinances which are more restrictive than state law.

"They let us smoke out here last year, and it's not really causing a nuisance to anybody," smoker Chris Gramlich said. "I just feel like there's smoking on every other beach here so I don't see why we shouldn't be allowed to smoke here."

But others say the beach is a place where smokers should butt out and enjoy the surf and sand without a cigarette.

"I used to enjoy smoking, but I always noticed the smell of the smoke wafting in the wind, and when I was a smoker it didn't bother me. Now that I'm not it bothers me," Sherree Sharron said.

The bill would also extend beyond the beaches and onto community college campuses if it hits the books.

"What our smoke-free policy has enabled us to do at the downtown campus is allow people a little more space before they go into a building," Cape Fear Community College spokesman David Hardin said. "If there's people who are smoking cigarettes outside, they won't have to walk through that cloud of smoke right before they get into the building."

Bill 703 passed the Senate Environment Committee today. The bill now goes to another committee for review.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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SMOKING BAN

WEL TO BE BLUNT YOU CAN STILL SMOKE AT THE BEACH AS LONG AS YOUR BELOW THE HIGH TIDE LINE THE CITY HAS 0 RIGHT TO SAY ANYTHING AS IT IS FEDERAL LAND AS PER: THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS. THE CITY CAN PASS NO LAW ON FEDERAL LAND TO IF YOU WANT TO SMOKE GO FOR IT JUST BRING A BAGGIE TO PUT YOUR BUTTS IN I HATE SEEING BUTTS ON THE BEACH DO LIKE A LOT OF US RESPONSIBLE SMOKERS DO AND BAG THE BUTT TILL YOU CAN FIND A GARBAGE CAN... BETTER IN A BAG THEN IN THE SAND.....

Smoke 'em!

Great! More butts on the beach to step on! The largest ashtray on the east coast just coughed up a loogie!

It's a behavior issue, deal with it!

The real problem and the cause for this whole panty-waste legislation is one simple and basic behavior: Smokers irresponsibility to properly dispose of their cigarette butts. That's it. There are existing littering laws that can be enforced, but they don't. The same thing will happen with this new law (if it really becomes one), nobody will enforce it.

So here you go. Up the fines for leaving your butts on the beach to $500.00/butt. Put up some big orange signs stating the policy so that everyone can see them and simply enforce what is discovered. With that kind of revenue, WB can hire additional "butt police" with binoculars to add to their existing staff of the same and stop the errant behavior of trashy smokers.

The laws are there, use them!

State Government Overreach

This is a slippey slope to usurp local ordinances. What's next, is the State is going to change the speed limits because someone needs to get somewhere faster. One wonders if the gentleman from Wilson is inhaling cash from the tobacco lobby.

GAte Keeper

Indeed it is a power grab.
Superior court judge in Wake put a stop to the regionalization of the Asheville Water and sewer(?)
I wonder what they will do if anyone challenges the Airport in Charlotte fiasco?

Vog

North Carolina has more

North Carolina has more state roads than any other state in the country except Texas and the speed limits for city streets is dictated by state law; 35 unless otherwise posted. Many streets in our cities already are controlled by the state. So nope, not next.

Whatever happened to people havin freedom and people being expected to act in a reasonable manner? We don't need laws to dictate us.

Then according to your logic...

Wow you missed the point...."We don't need laws to dictate us" If this were turly the case then remove all laws. If given total freedom of choice and knowing that everyone has the ability to act in a resonable manner then why do we need laws against child molestation or rape?

Local or home rule was the basis our country was formed. A democracy is based on the will of the people, and when the majority speaks (or votes, especially at the local level), the minority can comply, try and sway others to see their side reasonably or too often as we see now, whine like spoiled childern about THEIR freedoms and the heck with others. Sadly this is why our country is in the shape it's in today because of this selfish mindset

How is this different from state's rights?

We cry about what's the state's responsibility versus federal responsibility, screaming to defend state sovereignty. How is this different. While we're at it, what's up with their bill that says all new cars have to go through dealerships, thereby preventing consumers from buying cars such as Tesla? I thought this state was all about free market economy. Why is it that Republicans speak out of both sides of their mouth (or the other end)?

If smokers would be a little

If smokers would be a little more considerate of the people around them, then bans like this wouldn't be necessary. If it is public property then the governing municipality should have the right to ban smoking. If it is a private business, such as bars, then the state should butt out.

well since the state pays to

well since the state pays to renourish a lot of the beach by matching federal funds, or paying a certain percentage, and MOST of the people sitting on the beach do not reside at WB, and many not within wilmington, i'd say this law is fair. WB should have NEVER attempted to ban smoking. maybe they should have put up no litter signs with a picture of a cigarette butt. maybe them should have told the police and life guards to go up to people who are smoking and tell them that they are littering. if they see butts in the sand, write them a ticket. the real issue here is that some people are so ANTISMOKING that they use the GUISE of litter to tell others what to do. smoking stinks, its unattractive, its unhealthy and it kills but someone smoking on a beach next to one of us isnt as damaging to our health as sitting in the strong summer sun with SPF 20 on. we have bigger fish to fry. pass the law and let's worry about real issues....

Let the State pay for....

If the State Government's vote (essentially) overturns The Wrightsville Beach ordinance, the Town of Wrightsville Beach should send an invoice to the State for the cost of any police protection, EMS services, lifeguard protection, and garbage collection. After all, if the State wants to assert ownership and control, they should accept responsibility.

Wilmington Observer

*facepalm*

Are you even aware that you resemble a braying donkey?

THE TOWN OF WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH DOES NOT OWN THE BEACH. It's a PUBLIC beach. That means all citizens everywhere own it. That means that the state DOES have some say in what happens on Wrightsville Beach. WB DOES receive state and federal monies. WB DOES receive protection from the state and the feds. Does the Town of WB have a national guard? Does the Town of WB have a coast guard? If WB wants to assert ownership and control, they should accept full responsibility for meeting ALL those needs.

This is good

This is good, because there are loop holes in what WB wanted to do. All a person had to do is stand in the water and smoke. I don't understand why they could have enforced the littering laws to stop the problem.

because

Because every time an enforcement official sees someone smoking, they have to stop and wait for him/her to finish the cigarette to see if he/she disposes of it properly. That's just not an efficient way to patrol the beach, so they haven't bothered to do it. The vast majority of people who smoke on the beach do litter their cigarette butts, as is the case with people who smoke while driving. They'd never throw an empty pack out the window, but don't see the butts the same way. Just the way it is. Yes there are loop-holes like you mentioned... what WB is going to do is seek for the General Assembly to grant WB the authority to extend the jurisdiction of the smoking ban so that people can't just go stand in the water and be able to smoke.

What they need to do is establish "smoking areas" near each access and have cigarette receptacles at the smoking areas. But they can't do that till 2 years after the law was passed since it was voted on as a referendum... has to stay in its original form for 2 years according to town by-laws.

"Because every time an

"Because every time an enforcement official sees someone smoking, they have to stop and wait for him/her to finish the cigarette to see if he/she disposes of it properly."

Well what else do they have to do??? They are there to generate revenue, and this is easy prey, but I for one am sick and tired of having to pick up after these BUTTS!

No Ideas

Don't give government officials at WB ideas. Next thing you know there will be a referendum on the ballot to make it illegal to smoke while standing in the Atlantic Ocean within 100 meters of shore.

The REAL Truth

Why not ban pull tabs and bottle caps, items I see even more prolifically on the beach than cig butts. From my perspective, WB'ers don't want people to come to WB. They are just one small step away from having a state unto themselves, a toll on the bridge would be all that is lacking to make it theirs! Lacking that, they can raise the parking fees to $5 an hour and place a ban on fishing, running and surfing (Why not?. Might as well eliminate any pleasurable beach activity.) They already monitor license plates to keep out the riff-raff. Why not just admit they want it all for themselves and get it over with!

Finally

Absolutely! Always has been what WB ultimately desires - the island unto themselves. They don't mind the wealthy out of towner there to spend lots of cash for a short stay but no local trash please.