City Council voted unanimously Thursday to ban the use of tobacco products on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
A current ordinance restricts tobacco use to seven small smoking areas spread out across the length of the boardwalk.
Council voted 7-0 on the first reading of an ordinance that bans smoking along the entire boardwalk, including ramps and stairs. The measure requires a public hearing and second reading scheduled for June 26.
If passed, the ordinance would take effect in mid-July.
First offenses would be punishable with fines of $100 to $250. Fines for subsequent offenses would be $500 to $1,000.
The measure passed on first reading with full support from council members and no comment from the public.
Councilman Mike DeVlieger suggested that “a warning or two would be good” for Ocean City visitors who may not be aware of a new ordinance. Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said Ocean City police issue 1,700 to 1,800 warnings a year under the current ordinance but issue few summonses.
The city administration said it would be prepared for smokers to move to street ends near the boardwalk by placing cigarette butt receptacles there.
“We’re solving a problem on the boardwalk, but we are creating one, too,” Mayor Jay Gillian said.
He said he wants to make sure streets are safe and well-lit for any smokers who move off the boardwalk.