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New Hampshire

Should Smoking Be Banned on Hampton Beach?

Anthony Curro loves the peace and quiet of the ocean's waves in his back yard in Hampton, New Hampshire. In August of 2017, that serenity was interrupted by the stench of cigarettes.

"Someone just showed up and put his beach chair right around us and and just started smoking," Curro said. "He probably wasn't even aware that there were kids everywhere and now here we are, breathing his smoke."

That incident propelled Curro to file a petition with the town. He got the necessary signatures needed for town selectmen to decide to make it an ordinance on town owned beaches: Plaice Cove and Sun Valley.

"I'm a reformed smoker," said Hampton resident Richard Doulette. "Thirty-five, 40 years. So my only only opinion is if they want to smoke, let them smoke in their residence."

The petition won with residents, but now the town selectmen have to vote to pass the warrant into an ordinance.

"I think if the town did take a position, it might help end some of the litter that we get from these cigarette butts," said Selectman Rick Griffin.

Selectman Russell "Rusty" Bridle was not as optimistic.

"Although well-intended, I think it's going to be very hard to enforce," said Bridle.

"In New Hampshire, in order to enforce an item passed at town meeting, there has to get a state law addressing that issue," said Town Manager Frederick Welch. "There is no state law addressing this issue, so it's kind of an advisory issue."

Welch said if the ban were passed it would be considered a civil ordinance. "It's not a criminal ordinance. Police have no authority here," he explained.

Curro said that in Rye, a smoking ban ordinance and signs were put up, making him hopeful this same thing can happen in Hampton.

Selectmen are scheduled to meet on Monday and are expected to discuss this issue and make a decision whether to make it an ordinance.

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