Environmental group seeks smoking
ban on Chicago beaches
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
The ban suggested by the federation would take the form
of a city ordinance, said Stephanie Smith, the federation's
"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
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."