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Cigarette Litter On Minds Of Those Asked About Smoking Ban

More than health concerns, discarded cigarette butts were at the forefront of people's minds when it comes to smoking cigarettes outside.

With a proposed ordinance to ban smoking cigarettes in city parks, beaches and other recreational areas looming in City Hall, The Journal Times asked several residents for their thoughts.

"They've got to do what they've got to do," said Anna Dexter, 27, of Racine. Dexter, a cashier at a Taco Bell, was at the Dr. Laurel Salton Clark Memorial Fountain on Sunday with her two daughters and her boyfriend. Though a smoker herself, she said she wouldn't mind not being able to smoke cigarettes at places like the fountain in the future.

As long as they put up signs it should be fine, said Sarah Simich, 33, a factory worker and student at Gateway Technical College from Racine.

Simich was at the fountain for a play outing Sunday with a friend and their kids.

Even though she's a smoker herself, Simich said she wouldn't mind such an ordinance.

"I don't want to smoke cigarettes around my kids," she said, adding she doesn't smoke cigarettes in the house. And when they're outside, she said, she'll smoke cigarettes away from the kids.

Her friend, Amanda Hinds of Racine, agreed.

Plus, said Hinds, 24, a student at Gateway Technical College: "It'd be a lot cleaner."

On that, smokers and nonsmokers agreed.

"Kids don't need to go around picking up cigarette butts," said Jeff Niedfeldt, 33, a machine operator from Racine who is a nonsmoker.

He was at the fountain on Sunday with his two daughters. He noted that children will pick up and play with anything and everything.

"If you're a responsible smoker, it shouldn't be a problem," said Joel Jurgens, 25, a factory worker from Racine.

Still, others questioned the practicality and feasibility of enforcing such an ordinance.

"I think it's pretty hard to control in an outdoor environment," said Barb Baker, a retiree from Racine who was at Horlick Field on Sunday with her husband, Dave, to get some fresh air.

She said she could understand banning smoking cigarettes in buildings and restaurants but added, "outside is kind of tricky."

Plus, the smoke cigarettes wouldn't be as concentrated outside or right in your face, she said.

Even nonsmokers would think that's going too far, said retiree Dave Baker, 68.

What they would like to see, however, is less litter. They said they see a lot of cigarette butts and empty cartons when they walk along North Pier.

The city Health Department has recommended the proposal, citing public health concerns and risks of secondhand smoking cigarettes, to the Board of Health, which approved it in June.

The proposal, recently deferred, is expected to come before the city's Committee of the Whole.

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