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Reader Input On Proposed Smoking Ban

The Island Gazette posed the question to our Facebook friends: What do you think about the proposal in Carolina Beach to ban smoking on the beach? Here are their responses. Please note that some responses are a dialogue or reply to other comments on the topic. Also, we've posted two polls. One on our "Island Gazette Newspaper" Facebook page and another on our website at
Here are the responses to the question:

Kara Ray: It's absurd! They just need to enforce the no littering law that already exists.

Ken Conoly: Nice idea but totally unrealistic. Are we going to have a bunch of Gomer Pyle's running up & down the beach shouting, "Citizen's Arrest! Citizen's Arrest!"?

Rhonda West Mingin: Its stupid!!!! and if they do ban it people will NOT do it...!! Geez when are these government officials gonna mind their own business?

Juanita Smith Hodge:  LOL. Ken , that was too funny.

Rebecca Hughes Lilly: It is stupid! It is open air! People just need to dispose of cig butts responsibly.

Debra Eudy LeCompte: I think it is yet one more overreach by government! We already have littering laws that no one seems to enforce! By the way, just how many littering citations were written over the past year? Don't we already have an alcohol ban? And, yet I find beer cans daily on all my walk.

Becky Gunter: I think that if the government continues in this matter, we will be told every move we can make. This is just reaching to far.

Amy Lou Powell Ottaway: It is ridiculous, wish people could see how this is Big Brother controlling us. And yes smokers should never leave their butts on the beach, but a law, really, we have enough laws

Buffy Barton Weiss: Speaking as someone from Ohio, NC and OH have about the same rate of smokers (20%). The difference is that a lot of Ohio has a ban on smoking in public (even in bars) that is pretty effective. One of the things that really hit me on our first visit was that I smelled smoke everywhere in NC. The combination of the smell and the butts everywhere makes for a negative impression. I hate the idea of more laws. I wish there was another way to make the area more attractive and smokers more courteous.

Jon Campbell: Buffy, cigs are banned in NC in all indoor areas including bars. I don't smoke but if we start banning things because we don't like the way they smell then where do we cross the line? And certainly no offense but Ohio isn't exactly litter free (including cig butts).
Ethan Crouch: I support the smoking ban. I think it will help to keep our beaches clean and promote healthy atmosphere and reduce exposure to second hand smoke for the vast majority of people who do not smoke. The current laws in place are not working.

Emma Beckner: I also question how this will be enforced. The no dogs on the beach during the "season" ordinance isn't being enforced, and dogs are a whole lot easier to spot than a cigarette butt! Enforce what is already on the books in a consistent and successful manner before adding more.

Lee Pilkington: Sitting on the little beach on Florida Ave. reading this and counting the butts around me...hmmm.

Tom Price: Clearly the case of misplaced priorities for the town council and a vocal few whose real agenda is to criminalize smoking everywhere.

Korleen Baker: First enforce the littering law...make it punishable with 30day jail sentence and ENFORCE it... but don't try and take my right to smoke a cigarette on the beach while I am relaxing or walking away when I dispose of the butts properly. My health. My choice.

Scott Veals: You are all correct in pointing out that many of the existing laws are not enforced, but can you imagine what the beach would be like if those laws weren't in place? At least we have a fighting chance of controlling the cigarette litter and offensive second hand smoke smell through peer pressure with this new law. And, I give credit to the majority of people who clean up after themselves. But for the small portion of smokers that just flick their butts on the ground, out of their cars, and into the ocean, the litter laws don't seem to be effective. So, lets try this and see how it works. At least we're talking about it now.

Jon Campbell: They need to just choose a 3-5 block area designated the non-smoking area. Anybody who is bothered enough by the smoke can go to that section of the beach. People that are fighting this from the littering aspect should put their mind and time to figure out ways to help enforce littering laws.

Troy Knapp: It's stupid!

Debra Eudy LeCompte: Unfortunately, those who choose to throw their butts on the beach or out the window will also disregard a smoking ban. You cannot legislate respect! So let's be honest here, if this was really about butt litter, we would try to enforce the littering law we already have! The butt litter is not the real issue, that's just a ruse! Some nonsmokers will not be happy until they drive smokers completely out! Second hand smoke in the outdoors is negligible. I don't smoke, but this issue makes me want to go stand on the beach and burn a few!

Island Gazette Newspaper: Just got this from the Police Department. From January 1, to-date this year, no citations issued for littering on the beach strand within Town limits. Six citations were issued during that same time period for dogs on the beach within Town limits. For the same time period, 17 citations were issued for littering at Freeman Park outside of Town limits plus three State Citations.

Sheila Smith: I completely agree with Debra (above). Non-smokers forcing their agenda on smokers (to me) is like a smoker going up to a non-smoker and blowing the smoke directly in their faces. Live & let live!!! Laws like this only affect the people that are caring and courteous enough to do things the right way in the first place. I didn't know anything about the litter law since I don't live at CB (wish I did!), but I try to be a courteous smoker. I do smoke on the beach, but I always take my butts with me to the trash when I leave. When I'm walking on the boardwalk, if I don't see a place to properly dispose of my butt, I put it out and put it in my pocket until I see a trashcan to safely dispose of it (to not cause a fire either). It’s the people that just don't care that do the littering and they will continue to do so whether the law is there or not. I know I saw lots of cig butts on the beach when I was there this past weekend. Government should not keep overreaching into people's lives and choices. It’s happening far too much as it is and it needs to stop. Wish I lived in CB and I would be at town meetings to voice my opinion for sure!!!

Debra Eudy LeCompte: Thanks for the update on the number of citations! The lack thereof, clearly speaks for itself!

Korleen Baker: Even more reason for me to not spend my time or $ in CB.....

Susan Zedella Miller: I am genuinely surprised that so many people think this is a ridiculous idea. Would you expect to be able to smoke in a National Park? Or in a rainforest? No, of course not. The beach is not just a recreation area, it is a natural habitat. A smoking ban is not about seeking punishment for people who smoke. It is about raising awareness, because we all need to protect the beach and ocean. Every single day, I witness people throwing their cigarette butts out of car windows. These same people would never dream of throwing a bottle or can out the car window. Cigarette butts must be specifically targeted because people specifically throw them down without regard.

Nikki Strawn: I think on public property that Carolina Beach officials have the right to enforce a smoking ban if smokers are not respecting their property by obeying litter laws and disposing of their butts responsibly. There is not a single property owner who wants trash disposed on their property and would expect government interference if someone kept disposing their trash on their property. Carolina Beach officials and concerned citizens are just simply doing their job in taking care of public property and environment. It is unfortunate that due to lack of enforcement of litter laws that citizens who chose to smoke are feeling targeted but that is what happens when another law is ignored. If the full smoking ban is not implemented we should demand and see to that officials actually enforce litter laws because we can all agree, smokers or nonsmokers, that overlooking litter laws is not a wise choice for our environmental future and present tourist atmosphere of Carolina Beach.

Willard Killough III: ‎@Susan : You can smoke at National Parks as long as you follow their rules. Example, Fort Sumter in South Carolina. You can't smoke in the Fort, only outside away from the entrance to the buildings. I've not attempted to research smoking bans in rain forests.

Debra Eudy LeCompte: Litter is the overall problem. Simply enforce the laws we already have! People who choose to disregard the present littering laws will also choose to disregard a smoking ban. You are only punishing those that are already doing the right thing! Be realistic and thoughtful folks. Do you ban babies because momma buries a dirty diaper (yes I have found dirty diapers during my walks), do you ban fast food because of the burger wrappers and French fry containers left behind? Do you ban sand toys because a kid lost his shovel in the surf? Do you ban digging and sand castle building because of the holes left behind? Come on! We already have an alcohol ban but I find beer cans everyday! We already have a dog ban during the summer months but I see dogs on the beach everyday as well as their feces that their lazy law breaking owners refuse to pickup! I would love to walk my dog on the beach everyday but, I obey the law and yet, I am punished because of someone else's lack of respect. So put all the laws on the books you want, the laws breakers will continue to break the laws and the majority will be punished for the infractions of the few! Who will be saddled with enforcing a smoking ban anyway? I believe our police force is already over stretched. It will be a 24/7 job because people are on the beach all day and night.

Ethan Crouch: Regarding enforcement of current litter laws for cigarette butts as litter. After speaking with police department in Wrightsville Beach, it was stated that is extremely difficult to write a citation for littering butts. 1) they are small and are easily discarded without anyone being able to see. 2) when approached people have often stated that they would pick them up when they leave and were only sticking in the sand temporarily. Enforcing litter ordinance for cigarette butt is almost impossible. Still this is missing the point. Its not about writing citations, its about public awareness. Yeah there are a few dogs on the beach in spite of town ordinance, and only very few citations written. But if there were no ordinance there would be tons of dogs and tons of pet debris. Same logic applies with Cig Butt ordinance, use the laws to help reduce the problem.
Karl Stewart: I think that until smokers can show respect for our beaches, a ban should be put in effect. This is not about smoke, this is about the thousands of butts on the beach, many of which will find their way into the water and poison the wildlife there! I have walked the beach on many occasions, picking up butts (by the hundreds in a one mile stretch) and yes, the bags and bags of litter. Instead of complaining about ordinances, complain to the town about lack of enforcement. Maybe we need a reward system for those who turn in the offenders, we all have camera phones. Maybe we should all take pics of offenders and post them publicly !! It works in other countries !'
Timothy Upton: Are blondes next?

Susan Zedella Miller: Willard, in most National Parks, such as Muir Woods National Monument, Zion National Park, and Yellowstone National Park, smoking is permitted only in certain areas, such as inside vehicles and in parking lots. This is to protect the areas' indigenous flora and fauna. The ban would be similar at Carolina Beach-- smoking in certain areas only, in order to protect the local flora and fauna. It makes perfect sense to me.

David Transou: Susan Zedella Miller, those bans are primarily for fire prevention, not a ban against smoke from tobacco. There is no national law banning smoking in National Parks.
Debra Eudy LeCompte: So there is still no answer as to WHO or HOW this proposed ban would be enforced! Will this fall on our already under manned police department or will our life guards (whose job is to guard lives not be the butt patrol) be asked to enforce the ban. Will we have to hire additional police officers to do nothing but ride up and down the strand to hunt down the law breakers 24/7? Where will the $$$$ come from for the manpower to enforce a ban?

David Transou: We suffered through the lunacy of the Road Diet. Must we now seek a way to waste more time and money while ticking off the tourists and locals with a Cig Diet? Perhaps a creative anti-butt signage campaign might help, but this proposed ban is useless. "Keep your butts off the beach or keep your butt off the beach!"

Lynn Barbee: This is a tough issue for a libertarian minded non-smoker. However when you are talking about public spaces it gets tough. Let me see if an example helps. It is illegal to disrobe and change clothes on the strand. Why? Nothing more natural than the human body. So it's not about tolerance, or we would tolerate it. We simply don't allow it because the majority find it offensive or that it projects the wrong image. I would bet that those screaming for their smokers rights would be appalled to see me naked next to their children. Trust me it's an ugly sight. So it comes down to a majority opinion of the image we want to project. While torn. I think I will take the ban. Smokers can go home and smoke, clothing optional.

Cindi Jacobs: Spend the money to fix the sewage infrastructure. I'd rather swim with butts than sewage.

Vicky Evans: I don’t' like the idea but I also don't like the butts...please don't leave them.
David Transou: Lynn Barbee, I really do hear anyone yelling for their smokers' right. Rather, I hear people saying the ban in not enforceable.

Brent Byerly: Let em smoke on the beach.....but please people clean up your butts.

Anthony S Nobilio Sr: Pass the law. It is the responsibility of govt to protect its citizens; in this case protect against second hand smoke and the stupidity of those that litter. I'm tired of moving because someone is smoking downwind and getting allergic reaction to that smoke.