OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Town councilors decided Tuesday night to draft a resolution, rather than an ordinance, to encourage people not to smoke on Old Orchard Beach.

Nearly two dozen residents expressed mixed opinions during a council workshop on a proposal to ban smoking on the beach.

Proponents say it is a necessary step to clean up the beach and promote healthy living, while opponents say it would hurt businesses and be nearly impossible to enforce. Others said the larger issue isn’t smoking, but littering on the beach.

The idea was presented to council in July by a group of high school students who attended the 2009 Maine Youth Anti-Tobacco Summit and received a $330 grant to work on developing an ordinance. The premise is to reduce secondhand-smoke exposure and waste on the beach.

Trish Driscoll, who lives near Old Orchard Beach, said the ordinance would be easily self-enforceable. “If this is an ordinance, I’m empowered to walk up (to someone smoking) and say, ‘You may not be aware this is an ordinance,’” and ask them to stop, Driscoll said.

But Peter Bishop, a resident who smokes, said, “I just don’t understand why we have to create these laws to take away liberties.”

Councilors agreed that the issue needs to be addressed, but had varied opinions on how to proceed. Council Chairman Bob Quinn said it’s an issue the council will have to take up after November’s elections, but Councilor Robin Dayton said the issue shouldn’t be dropped.

The four councilors who were present decided that drafting and signing a resolution would help educate residents and tourists through a voluntary ban on smoking, then residents could vote next year whether to make it an ordinance.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]