EASTHAM — Sunbathers at the Cape Cod National Seashore’s six popular beaches could be fined $50 for smoking this summer under the park’s first smoking ban.
The ban, which begins June 19, prohibits smoking in areas where lifeguards are on duty. Those areas span 400 to 600 yards on each beach, Chief Ranger Leslie Reynolds said.
National Park Service rangers patrolling the beaches may choose to simply educate a smoker with an oral or a written warning, or they can issue a federal violation notice with a $50 fine, Reynolds said.
The park’s superintendent, George Price, said that enforcement is at an officer’s discretion.
“If somebody is belligerent or is a repeat offender, you know they aren’t interested in complying,” he said. “It’s pretty much a professional judgment call.”
The beaches affected are:
■ Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach, both in Eastham.
■ Marconi Beach in Wellfleet.
■ Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro.
■ Race Point Beach and Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown.
On Wednesday afternoon on the wide, windy Nauset Light Beach, it seemed difficult for secondhand smoke to drift from one person to another.
But Reynolds said the beach is packed with people at the height of the season, with most visitors crowded within the boundaries of the lifeguard areas.
Price said the ban was instituted after he received a number of complaints about secondhand smoke. He also consulted with the park’s staff and the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, he said.
“The time has come,” Reynolds said. “We’re at a time now where a lot of people feel they should not have to endure secondhand smoke, which has an impact on many other beachgoers who might not appreciate it.”
Bill Kolisko, 62, of Eastham, was reclining on the sand at Nauset Light with Annie, his 125-pound Alaskan malamute. He said he has not seen an issue with secondhand smoke, but he supports the ban.
“It’s disgusting for people who don’t smoke,” he said. “It infringes on other people’s personal space.”
He said that people should follow the new smoking restrictions just like dog owners must follow certain rules at the beach. “If people want to smoke, that’s their freedom. Just go somewhere else,” he said. “It’s a courtesy.”
However, Todd Stewart, a 75-year-old from New Britain, Conn., who was visiting Nauset Light, said a full smoking ban is “a stupid idea,” but that restrictions on time and place make sense.
“I do believe the government is too much in your face,” Stewart said. “Common sense should prevail somehow. But it doesn’t.”
At Coast Guard Beach, two teenagers were sitting on a bench near the parking lot, one of them flicking ash from a Black & Mild cigar.
Ulrik Winslow, 18, and J.P. Whiteman, 19, said they are occasional smokers. But the recent Nauset Regional High School graduates said the ban is something they welcome.
“I don’t need another excuse to smoke a cigarette,” Winslow said. “You shouldn’t be littering the beach. But I’ve never noticed [secondhand smoke] to be a big problem.”
Some people said that secondhand smoke was hardly an issue at a place as large and windy as Coast Guard Beach.
Angela Wilber, 43, of Littleton, Colo., gestured at the expanse of sand around her as she said the breeze carries smoke away.
“It seems like a pretty wide-open space,” she said. “Maybe in the crowded months it would be different. I’m always in favor of a smoking ban. . . . But outdoor spaces get tricky.”
Several people thought the prohibition would help clear the beaches of cigarette butts, a common nuisance. Parents at the Coast Guard and Nauset Light beaches praised the ban because it would help keep smoke away from children.
“It cuts down on litter and is much better for a family atmosphere,” said Paula Perticone, 57, of Texarkana, Texas.
Gabriele Wyman, 23, of Framingham, said any measure to keep her two young daughters away from smoke is good.
National Seashore officials plan to set up barricades so smokers will know in which areas they cannot light up. Smoking will be allowed anywhere that guards are not on duty, at any hour.Claire McNeill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @clairemcneill.