Village Proposals

One, two, three: The Village of East Hampton took on paper waste, plastic straws, and smoking in public in a single morning. The proposed measures are ambitious and worthy of support, even if enforcement turns out to be a bit tricky.

The broadest of the three would prohibit smoking and the use of e-cigarettes or vaping devices on public property in the village. This would cover some streets, sidewalks, parking lots, parks, and beaches. A smoking ban has been in effect in Herrick Park and the Main Beach Pavilion for some time; this would go a lot further. A ban would cut down on the cigarette butts that often foul sidewalks, but more than that, it would be a strong and more important message that smoking is harmful. How nice it will be not to have the acrid stink of a cigar wafting down the beach on an otherwise perfect day.

The village board is likely to join the anti-plastic straw wave, too, with a rule that would prohibit restaurants from placing them in drinks unless asked for by patrons. Activists concede that plastic straws are an almost infinitesimal part of the unnecessary consumption of fossil fuels and cause of global pollution, but, they say, banning them is as good a place to start as any. The village had already prohibited the use of foam takeout containers. Cutting down on plastic straws is a sensible next step.

Last and most complex among the proposals coming up for public hearing tomorrow is a village law that would classify the free magazines that choke the business district as garbage unless distributed according to strict rules. This would put the summer glossies, in particular those piled in front of stores, in the same category as household waste and construction debris. Free magazines would be allowed only with the permission of the property owner or tenant and they would have to be secured, although they could be handed out to passers-by. Those placing magazines on public or private property without permission would be subject to a penalty and the offending items removed. 

Each proposal is a worthy one. Taken together, they might go a long way toward making the village streets, parks, storefronts, and beaches more presentable, the air cleaner, and lessen the village contribution to the plastic waste stream.