editorial

Smokeless sand

August 17, 2012 

We’re thinking back to various cigarette ads that used to show groups of perhaps excessively happy smokers cavorting on the beach. For those who smoke, it’s true the habit does begin as a form of relaxation, or recreation, before it becomes an addiction. Sound of the surf, relaxing on the sand, take a drag, exhale – life is good! For now.

It’s a bold move for a beach community to tell visitors, sorry, seaside smoking isn’t something we allow here. Only a minority of Americans smoke these days, but wouldn’t such a rule alienate some potential tourist customers? And what’s a little secondhand smoke amidst winds off the Atlantic Ocean?

Well, the town of Carolina Beach south of Wilmington has decided that on balance, a beach smoking ban makes sense. It could become the first Tar Heel locality with such a rule.

Notably, the ban would eliminate a major source of beach litter. When butts are simply tossed, as too often happens, they can wash up and accumulate along the surf line. Or little kids digging in the sand can pick the nasty things up. The beach isn’t an ash tray – so it’s reasonable to try to keep it from being used that way.

North Carolina still raises a great deal of tobacco, and there’s a historical resistance to anti-smoking rules. But that resistance has significantly faded as the dangers of second-hand smoke have become clear. Carolina Beach officials feel they need the legislature’s OK to move ahead with the ban, and they’ll seek that approval next year.

This would be a good chance for lawmakers to show that they respect a community’s judgment about an economic and quality of life issue. On that score, let the smoke stop blowing.

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