Having a smoke in Long Beach now means walking away from the sand and shore.
The city joins a growing list of Long Island municipalities that have banned or restricted smoking at its beaches.
“From coast to coast, legislation has been enacted to create smoke-free parks and beaches,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. “It is our desire to join this fast growing national health and environmental movement and enact our own smoke-free legislation.”
The ban was added to the city code and rules for Ocean Beach Park, which encompasses the entire beach and boardwalk in Long Beach, and all other parks in the city.
City Council members voted 5-0 to ban smoking on any portion of the beach or on the city’s popular boardwalk. The smoking ban applies to cigarettes, cigars and pipes. It also applies to electronic cigarettes, vaping and “any device that creates aerosol or vapor.”
The law also bans sales of any smoking paraphernalia or cigarettes on the boardwalk and the beach. Smoking areas are still available in parking lots and areas off the beach and the boardwalk. Some residents raised concerns that the beach ban would concentrate smokers in small areas and create a cloud of smoke at beach entrances.
Long Beach police or any other officers on the beach and boardwalk are now authorized to issue a summons for smoking in the areas where it’s banned. The penalty was not defined.
Long Beach City Council members stripped a provision from the proposed ban that would have prohibited possession or carrying cigarettes on the beach. Councilwoman Eileen Goggin said the provision may punish smokers who may have cigarettes in their possession but who are not actively smoking. She also questioned if it would subject residents to unwanted search by police enforcing the ban.
“Unfortunately the plain language leaves it for police to enforce,” Goggin said. “It seems overly broad.”
Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said the police officers would focus on education before enforcement of the smoking ban. He said police must always record a violation, but don’t always have to issue a summons.
“We’re going to try to take a gentle approach and not be heavy handed,” Tangney said.
The city drafted the ordinance after receiving a change.org petition seeking a smoking ban. Signs about the restrictions will be provided by the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island.
Schnirman noted that smoking is banned at 261 beaches nationwide and New York State parks have been smoke-free since 2014.
The town of Huntington banned smoking at eight beaches in 2014. Smoking bans also exist at beaches in Hempstead including Lido Beach and Point Lookout, which are adjacent to Long Beach, and in the towns of Oyster Bay, Smithtown, Brookhaven and Babylon, in Southampton Village and at Nassau and Suffolk County parks.
The Long Beach smoking ban, which goes into effect immediately, adds to the existing ban on alcohol and gambling at all city parks and on the beach. The regulations also ban all gambling activities or solicitation of cash at Long Beach parks.