Smoke-free beach bill gets nod

Posted Feb. 12, 2009, at 9:06 p.m.

Smoking within Maine’s state parks and historic sites would be steeply curtailed if a measure headed to the full Legislature is adopted. The bill, LD 67, met with the unanimous approval of the Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, including an emergency preamble that would cause it to take effect immediately upon enactment, well before the busy summer season gets under way.

The original bill, submitted by Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds, would have prohibited smoking on freshwater and saltwater beaches in all of Maine’s state parks. Nutting said the measure was needed to protect beach-goers from exposure to secondhand smoke and to prevent small children from handling discarded butts buried in the sand.

today’s poll

Do you favor a smoking ban at all public beaches and parks in Maine?

Yes

No

With one member absent, the committee voted unanimously to amend the bill to ban smoking on or within 20 feet of any beach, playground, snack bar, group picnic shelter, enclosed public area or public restroom in any state park or state historic site.

The committee killed a similar bill, LD 155, sponsored by Rep. L. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, that would have extended the smoking ban to all public beaches and parks in the state. Committee member Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland, said lawmakers were unwilling to impose a smoke-free mandate on Maine towns and cities, but that a letter would be drafted to urge municipalities with public parks and beaches to follow the state’s example.

mhaskell@bangordailynews.net

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