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Great Lakes Article:

Environmental group seeks smoking ban on Chicago beaches
Associated Press
09/19/03


CHICAGO - As its annual cleanup of Illinois beaches approaches, an environmental advocacy group has proposed a smoking ban on Chicago's lakeshore in hopes of ridding it of tens of thousands of cigarette butts.

"It's time to stop using our beaches as ashtrays," said Sophia Twichell, president of the Lake Michigan Federation, which issued its proposal for a smoking ban on Wednesday. The group's cleanup of state beaches is scheduled for Saturday.

The ban suggested by the federation would take the form of a city ordinance, said Stephanie Smith, the federation's education coordinator.

"Cigarette butts on the beach are unsightly to tourists and residents alike, cost taxpayers countless dollars for cleanup, and can present health risks to children who put objects in their mouths," Smith said.

Similar bans are being considered by communities including Ocean City and Belmar Beach in New Jersey and the Barrington Town Beach in Rhode Island.

"One of the things I've been trying to deal with is the humongous amount of money unnecessarily used to clean beaches," said Ald. Mary Ann Smith, who chairs the City Council's parks and recreation committee. She said a ban "doesn't cost anybody anything."

Cigarettes are the top litter component on beaches in terms of the amount of items collected, Stephanie Smith said.

Volunteers at the federation's annual beach cleanup events have retrieved 155,790 butts over the last five years, an average of 31,158 per cleanup and 42 percent of all items collected, officials said. Bottles and cans made up 30 percent of the trash while food-related waste made up 18 percent.

The federation's proposal calls for the proposed ban to be enforced by lifeguards, but the alderwoman isn't sure who should enforce the ban.

"It's not the proper role of lifeguards," she said. "They're supposed to be watching the water."

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