The sign on the garbage can on Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier in Wrightsville Beach is evident: “Walk your butt to the can to keep our beaches beautiful.” But if Wrightsville enforces the smoke-free beach regulation before the town’s Board of Aldermen, inhabitants who want to smoke cigs will have to walk farther than the trash bin. New Hanover County Board of Elections authorities this week approved a resident-led document for to pass a smoke-free beach law. Under town regulations, the petition now forces town leaders to enforce the legislation or put the issue to the public through a voter referendum.

If the ordinance passes, residents will have to leave the beach shore to smoke a cig. Wrightsville Beach will also become the first beach in the state to ban smoking on the shore.

Smokers who come to the beach without cigs are already hard-pressed to find a place to buy a package, argued Christine Scierpial, who was working at the gift store at Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier.

The gift shop doesn’t sell tobacco products, but Scierpial explained that she gets asked at least once a day if they do. When she says no, “they’re disappointed,” she added.

Beachgoers on Sunday had different reactions to the proposed new tobacco smoking ban. Steve Mann, sitting in a low beach chair with a Marlboro cigarette in his hand, said he wasn’t crazy about the new idea of the law.

“I’d treat it like the alcohol prohibition,” he added. “I’d still come, but I wouldn’t be happy about it.”