Leave your cigarettes at home if you’re heading to Silvershell Beach in Marion this summer because the Marion Board of Health is getting rid of the designated smoking section located at the edge of the beach and doing away with the cigarette barrel once placed there.
This was the first topic brought to the table by newly-elected Board of Health member Jason Reynolds, who asked on May 24 that fellow board members support the removal of the designated smoking section and the installation of a ‘No Smoking’ sign right at the entrance of Silvershell Beach.
Reynolds said the Town of Marion is a “desirable town” to live in, with “well-educated” residents, so smoking should not be permitted at the town’s beaches, parks, or any other public area.
“I just feel like the last thing I want to do when I’m at the beach is be subject to someone’s cigarette smoke,” said Reynolds.
Health Agent Karen Walega agreed that the designated smoking section should go, calling it a “bad spot,” just as bad as walking into the grocery store with someone smoking right at the entrance. At Silvershell, she noted, the smoking section is “literally as you walk onto the beach.”
Walega pointed out that the smoking regulations the board updated earlier this year specifically list public beaches as areas where smoking is prohibited, so a public meeting is not required for the new sign.
“It definitely says ‘municipally owned parks and playgrounds … beaches and swimming areas’,” read Walega.
Board of Health member John Howard suggested placing the sign right at the driveway entrance to the beach and foregoing providing a receptacle for smokers’ cigarette butts.
“If they want to stand in the middle of the public road and get hit by a car…” said Howard, then so be it.
The board also plans to place a ‘No Smoking’ sign at Washburn Park.
In a somewhat related matter, the board, concerned about synthetic marijuana, sought to investigate whether it is within its purview to set regulations banning synthetic drug substances from sale in town.
Walega said Town Counsel Jon Whitten, who recently reviewed the matter, does not believe the Board of Health should have such regulations at this time.
In other towns such as Wareham, Walega said, the Board of Health has crafted regulations banning the substances.
“I say we just do it,” said BOH Chairman Betsy Dunn.
The rest of the board preferred to hold off so things could be done in the proper manner, while Walega said she contacted Marion Police Chief Lincoln Miller about police oversight of synthetic marijuana.
“He still hasn’t gotten back to me,” Walega said. “So he put it on the back burner.”
Reynolds asked about what the board can do now to regulate the sale of the synthetic drug in town.
“I don’t know,” replied Dunn.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health is scheduled for June 14 at 4:30 pm at the Marion Town House.
By Jean Perry