Adopt-a-Beach Data Sparks Smoking Ban on Chicago Beaches
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Posted October 21, 2007
The Chicago Park District has banned smoking on city beaches, citing the tens of thousands of cigarette butts cleared by Alliance Adopt-a-Beach volunteers during annual beach cleanups.
The ban, which was approved Wednesday and took effect immediately, imposes a $500 fine on anyone found smoking within 15 feet of a city beach or playground.
"Chicago recognizes the very real hazards that cigarette butts pose to young children and wildlife, and is taking action to make the city's beaches healthier," said Stephanie Smith, director of education programs for the Alliance.
Cigarette butts have consistently been the No. 1 form of litter collected by Adopt-a-Beach volunteers in Chicago and around the Great Lakes, according to Smith. As many as 35,000 cigarette butts were cleared from Chicago beaches during a single three-hour cleanup event in 2006.
Cigarette butts are not only unsightly, they contain chemicals -- cadmium, lead, arsenic and nicotine -- which leach into the water. Toxic to fish and birds, cigarette filters can also find their way into the mouths of small children and wildlife.
Park officials noted that in addition to helping keep beaches free of cigarette butts, the ban will protect children from second-hand smoke when they go to the lakeshore.
Frustrated by the prevalence of cigarette litter on beaches, Adopt-a-Beach volunteers have been the catalyst for smoking bans on beaches in other communities as well. Earlier this year, officials in Muskegon and Ottawa County, Mich. cited Adopt-a-Beach volunteer data in enacting smoking bans or designating smoke-free areas on their beaches.
Great Lakes communities aren't the first to ban smoking on beaches, however. California enacted similar bans a number of years ago, and communities there report a preliminary 40 percent reduction in smoking litter found on beaches.
More than 5,000 volunteers tend to beaches along four of the Great Lakes through the Adopt-a-Beach program. Since 1991 the Alliance has worked with community groups and volunteers to organize beach cleanups in Illinois as part of the International Coastal Cleanup.
To adopt a beach, contact email@example.com