Environmentalist who sought plastics ban now going after cigarette butts

click to enlarge Environmentalist who sought plastics ban now going after cigarette butts - Tony Willis/Wikimedia Commons
Tony Willis/Wikimedia Commons
Environmentalist who sought plastics ban now going after cigarette butts

Earlier this year, Treasure Island resident Julie Featherston and her 6-year-old son Harper brought attention to the scourge of plastic straws that line the city's beachfront, straws that are potentially very dangerous to area wildlife when ingested. 

Not only was she successful in persuading a couple of restaurants to swap out their plastic ones for those made of paper, she was also able to help get a proposed citywide straw ban onto the Treasure Island City Commission agenda, a ban that looks likely to go on the books.

(We subsequently profiled her efforts, which you can read here.)

Featherston isn't stopping at straws, though. 

Now she wants to go after cigarette butts, which, according to the group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, are the most common type of litter and comprise hundreds of millions of pounds of trash each year.

And they're strewn throughout the sand that line Treasure Island's beach.

She has said she would like to see the city ban smoking on the beach, too, but here's the rub: the state doesn't allow cities and counties to pass such ban (similar to the way local governments are barred from passing bans on carrying concealed weapons in public parks).

"A ban on banning...hmmmmm," reads a petition Featherston created to urge the state to reverse laws that preempt cities from passing such bans. "We think city governments should be allowed to protect their citizens by banning cigarettes on public beaches and in city parks. Imagine your child building a sand castle only to have nasty, discarded cigarette butts end up in their masterpiece! Not to mention the detriment they pose to wildlife."

The petition has over 200 signatures, though it's not obvious what kind of impact it would have beyond spreading public awareness of the issue and the tactics of which the state legislature is capable when lawmakers want to circumvent home rule.

The best way to reverse the ban on banning smoking would be by way of legislation drafted to that end, which means Featherston would have to find sponsors for such bill in both the State House and Senate.

The good news is, there are already lawmakers that are interested sponsoring legislation that would do that; the bad news is, these lawmakers have attempted such bills in past years with no luck.

Featherston told CL in a Facebook message she is reaching out to lawmakers in hopes of getting the bill sponsored.

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