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Westporters Want Smoke-Free Air at the Beach

WESTPORT, Conn. – The ocean breeze, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and even suntan lotion — these are aromas one might expect at the beach. One smell Westport resident Jennifer Tyrrell-Courtney doesn't expect is cigarette or cigar smoke.

"I don't think people should be allowed to smoke on the beach," said Tyrrell-Courtney, who was at Compo Beach on Wednesday afternoon with her 6-year-old son Finnegan and au pair Sofia. "I personally don't like it."

In Westport, smoking at town beaches and other town parks is not banned or limited to certain areas, said Stuart McCarthy , director of the Parks and Recreation Department . This is in part because the town doesn't receive many complaints about smoking, he said.

"I'd have to say, we get one or two calls a year on the issue with either a suggestion or complaint, but certainly not enough to create a groundswell movement toward legislation," McCarthy said.

Any proposed policies regarding the town's parks and recreation properties — such as regulating smoking on the beach — would be generated by the Parks and Recreation Commission, not his department, McCarthy added.

Although visitors to Westport's beaches are allowed to smoke whenever and wherever they want, Tyrrell-Courtney said she believes smoking at the beach should be limited to designated areas only. And she's not alone.

On Tuesday, The Daily Westport asked readers on its Facebook page how they felt about smoking on the beach. Reader Elizabeth Beller wrote, "Terrible ... Compo is a family-centered beach. Wish it weren't allowed."

Reader Lynne Openshaw agreed, saying, "Think it should be banned." Likewise, Marita Driscoll wrote, "I would love to ban it all together, but it is a public space."

Parks and Recreation commissioner George Franciscovich said although regulating smoking at the beaches isn't something the commission is currently considering, he said he brought up the subject a few months ago at a meeting when New York State was looking into banning smoking in parks.

"There really wasn't any interest in pursuing it because we haven't heard anything from our constituents," Franciscovich said. "In a community like Westport, people are not shy about sharing their opinions, so to only have one or two calls a year about it means it's not an issue.

"We do encourage people who have issues to let us know. We're always glad to get input from citizens."

What are you thoughts about smoking on the beach? Does it bother you? Do you think the town should consider designated smoking areas? Please leave a comment below.

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