Dewey Beach Lifeguards Take On New Duty: Smoking Enforcement - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Dewey Beach Lifeguards Take On New Duty: Smoking Enforcement

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DEWEY BEACH, Del. - It appears the new smoking ban in Dewey Beach hasn't received much backlash from beach goers, but with enforcement falling on the responsibility of the lifeguards, is there a question of public safety?

The primary role of a lifeguard is to be a constant, watchful eye for swimmers in trouble. Physically fit and strong swimmers, these guys and gals are comfort for thousands of beach goers. But in Dewey Beach they are taking on a new responsibility: smoking enforcement.

"From 9-5 when we are on duty, we will enforce the ban," Lieutenant Rob Mason said.

"People come to this beach and they don't want to have to deal with people blowing smoke in their face,"Jessica Parks said.

While Keeping the beach clean and maintaining its 5-star "Superstar Beach" status is important, the big question is, could this added duty take away from what should be the main focus?

"We have two lifeguards usually on every chair. So if there is an issue, one of them can take care of that while the other is still watching. We have at least one or two lifeguards walking around at all times, and they walk around carrying their gear to see if people are drinking, if they are smoking, and that sort of thing. So it's just added to their normal responsibilities. I don't expect any compromise in public safety whatsoever," Mayor Diane Hanson said.

"Somebody is always going to be watching," Mason said.

Lifeguards say they are taking a soft approach, meaning if they catch you smoking on the beach, they'll simply give you a warning and ask you to smoke on the street instead. But if you don't comply, it's a civil violation, which means they will issue you a ticket. It's a $50 fine and $35 for court costs - a total of $85.

It's a risk some say they're willing to take. "If they catch me, than they catch me. I'll put it out momentarily, and then light one later," Eddie Sweeney said.

Dewey Beach has also reportedly been given a $10,000 grant to hire a smoking ban enforcer who should be patrolling the sand by the Fourth of July weekend.

Smoking bans signs and cigarette butt containers are also on order and should be in by next week.

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