SOUTH PORTLAND – In April, a group of high school students sifted through the sand at Willard Beach and picked up more than 1,000 cigarette butts in less than an hour.

Now they’re asking City Hall to do something about it.

On Monday, the City Council will take a preliminary vote on a proposed ordinance to ban smoking within 25 feet of city beaches, playgrounds, recreational fields and walking trails.

South Portland already prohibits smoking within 20 feet of municipal buildings, and smoking is banned at state parks and beaches.

The proposal was brought to the council last week by South Portland High School students Elisa Martin and twin brothers Conor and Jackson Beck. It’s modeled after ordinances passed in the last five years in Westbrook, Portland, Lewiston and Scarborough.

“They did a fantastic job. I said to them, ‘You are more prepared than some of our professional developers,’” said Mayor Rosemarie De Angelis.

She has encouraged the students, who participate in the high school’s Interact Club, a project of the local Rotary Club.

De Angelis said the majority of councilors support the proposal.

“It’s going to be primarily self-enforcing, somewhat modeling the dog ordinance,” De Angelis said, noting an ordinance that allows dogs at Willard Beach for designated hours, depending on the season.

“If people are not really diligent and continue to offend, they could end up with a citation,” she said.

If the ordinance passes, signs will go up at various spots near city property. Healthy Maine Partnerships, a collaborative of four state departments including Health and Human Services, has agreed to provide the signs.

Violators could be fined $50 to $250 if they are cited by South Portland police.

“The signage will allow for a self-enforcing system, giving citizens the right to ask someone to not use the tobacco product on the particular property,” the proposed ordinance reads.

The proposal will need to pass two votes by the council, the first on Monday and the second possibly on July 6.

“They presented a lot of information to us,” City Manager Jim Gailey said of the students. “I think they really paved the way for the council to take it up for first reading, so kudos to them.”

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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