City considers smoking ban at beaches
June 29, 2006 (last updated 4:19 p.m.) (WLS) -- The city may soon snuff out cigarettes along Chicago's lakefront. A Chicago City Council Committee is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking on all city beaches.
The informational meeting was for committee members to discuss the possible smoking ban on beaches and gain momentum for the legislation, which could go before the entire council in the fall.
One environmental group said volunteers remove about 30,000 cigarette butts from Illinois lakefront each year. Supporters believe smoking at the beach causes health and environmental hazards.
"Those are items that can restrict fish and wildlife. There are things that kids can put in their mouths and choke on when they are at the beach. They are things that shouldn't be there because they don't biodegrade. They don't break down," said Cameron Davis, Alliance for the Great Lakes.
Environmentalists from Alliance for the Great Lakes presented their case to the Chicago City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee on Thursday. The city committee is chaired by Mary Ann Smith, 48th Ward.
"That could save us many millions of dollars. If people would really live by that and would live by that," said Ald. Mary Ann Smith, 48th Ward. "Is the beach an ashtray? Are we teaching children what we need to see in a recreation area like a beach? Smoking is not good for anybody. It is not good for the taxpayers that spend million of dollars that we spend cleaning this garbage off the beach."
Critics of the smoking ban question enforcement procedures. Beach-goers were split on the subject.
"I am an ex-smoker, so I am totally for it to be banned on the beach," said Marti Davis, beachgoer.
"I don't want to be subject to that. Once we get in our own minds to respect each other's place, we don't have to have people legislate everything we do," said Gina Darby, beachgoer.
A main concern for the Chicago Parks District is enforcement.
"Certainly keeping the beaches clean is our priority as well, so we share that with them. But I think it's going to take a little bit more research for us just to see how we can enforce it-- if we can at all. It's not something we want lifeguards to be doing," said Megan McDonald-Paulson, Chicago Park District.
"We can only do so much. And like I said, we work very hard to keep the litter off the parks and off the beaches. But it is a true team effort. And we need everybody in the city of Chicago to help us with that," said Megan McDonald-Paulson, Chicago Park District.
If the ban moves forward, the city council committee will draft some sort of legislation that will then be presented and voted on by the full council.
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