Scarborough’s beaches could join the growing ranks of those in Maine where smokers are prohibited from lighting up.

The town is considering banning smoking on its beaches at the request of Sharman Kivatisky, a resident who expressed concerns about secondhand smoke and cigarette butts.

Kivatisky, who frequents Scarborough’s beaches with her young granddaughters, is unhappy about getting caught in smokers’ fumes and about the butts left by visitors who stub out their cigarettes in the sand.

“It’s offensive to have to inhale that secondhand smoke, and it’s offensive visually,” she said.

Smoking is already prohibited in the public areas of Scarborough Beach State Park, under a state law that took effect last year. A town ordinance has the potential to limit smoking at Ferry Beach, Pine Point Beach and Higgins Beach. The Town Council has referred the issue to its Ordinance Committee.

Councilor Karen D’Andrea, who heads the panel, wants it to begin discussing a ban before there is any turnover on the council from the November election.

Town Council Chairwoman Carol Rancourt said her concern would be about the town’s ability to enforce such a ban.

“Sometimes people get very frustrated that there are rules on the books that aren’t enforced,” she said.

Cleaning up cigarette butts in the parking lots for the beaches and the boat launch is part of the daily routine for town workers, said Bill Reichl, Scarborough’s recreation manager.

“Every day, our kids go around and pick up cigarette butts. Depending on the day, they’ll have a minimum of 50 to upwards of a couple hundred,” Reichl said.

Those numbers reflect only the butts in the parking areas. Reichl said it’s not clear how many are swept up by the raking equipment that’s used to clear the sandy areas.

Smoking on beaches is problematic from the perspectives of environmental pollution and health, said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

She said the nicotine in cigarette butts is toxic and poses a risk to children and birds, and secondhand smoke — even outdoors — is still harmful.

“People have complained for years about the fact that they go to the beach and their kids would be choking from the cigarette smoke. On a crowded day, it’s not like you can just move,” she said.

The effort to limit smoking in public places in Maine has moved from the indoors to the outdoors.

The state banned smoking indoors at restaurants in 1999 and extended the prohibition to bars in 2004. In 2008, the state made it illegal to smoke in a car when children are in it.

In May 2009, Maine began prohibiting smoking in public areas of state parks and historic sites such as beaches, playgrounds, snack bars and group picnic shelters. Smoking is still allowed in designated smoking areas and more private areas, like individual campsites.

Will Harris, director of the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, said the prohibition at beaches has been well-received. Lifeguards and rangers let visitors know where they can and cannot smoke, he said, but the state law does not carry any penalties for violators.

“In general, we want people not to be smoking,” Harris said.

Scarborough would not be the first Maine municipality to prohibit smoking at its beaches. Communities including Portland, York and Gray already do. Some have penalties for violators, while others don’t.

Ogunquit voters will decide on a proposed ban, with penalties, in November.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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