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VIRGINIA BEACH -- Some Va. Beach residents want to ban smoking on the beaches of the Chesapeake bay, but that fight likely has to be settled by state lawmakers.

The Virginian-Pilot reports members of the Chesapeake Beach Civic League are worried about health risks and frustrated with seeing cigarette butts littering the beaches.

In one hour, Donny Damon says he filled a bag with them.

'The beach is not an ashtray, but some people think it is,' he said.

'No one ever admits to smoking cigarettes and throwing them on the beach but somebody's doing it.'

The paper says the City Attorney cited a previous opinion by the state attorney general's office saying localities cannot prohibit smoking in areas other than those listed in the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. Beaches aren't on the list.

Del. Ken Stolle, whose district covers Chic's Beach, told the Pilot he'll research the issue more before deciding whether to sponsor a bill that would let localities ban smoking on beaches.

Vice Mayor Louis Jones, whose district includes Chic's Beach, said he'll have to weigh how much support the ban has before pursuing the issue.

The Virginia Beach chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has an online petition to gather support for the proposal. One person posted, 'It is not a lot to ask for, because our's is a small beach on the Chesapeake Bay, and not the tourist attraction like our oceanfront.'

The General Assembly meets in January.

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