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Massachusetts' Cape Cod beaches to ban smoking

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts' famous beaches on Cape Cod will ban smoking at all lifeguard-protected areas beginning next week, a move that officials said followed complaints from visitors to the popular resort area.

"The smoking prohibition is the result of a number of complaints from visitors who have been affected by second-hand smoke on the guarded beaches," park Superintendent George Price said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The ban takes effect on June 19 but smoking will still be allowed in outdoor spaces not protected by lifeguards.

Among U.S. states, Massachusetts has been a leader on restrictions on smoking in public. A decade ago then-Governor Mitt Romney signed a law making it illegal to smoke in offices, restaurants or bars and a state lawmaker this year introduced a bill that would make it illegal to smoke in apartment buildings, to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

About 4.5 million people visit the Cape Cod National Seashore each year, according to the local Chamber of Commerce.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Sandra Maler)