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Submitted by Katie Harden on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 8:53pm.

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- The warmer weather means it's finally beach season, and that means thousands of people will make their way to Wrightsville Beach. As the town prepares for the 2012 tourist season, the Board of Aldermen are also considering a new smoking ban. Locals say they plan to speak out about this ban tonight at a public hearing. "It doesn't matter if it's freezing cold in December or 90 degrees in July, it's the same thing," said smoking ban supporter Danielle Richardet. "It's always cigarette butts. So I think it's time we start fixing that." For more than a year, Richardet has been collecting cigarette butts off of Wrightsville Beach. So far, she has collected more than 40,000. She says a smoking ban is necessary for the beach and she hopes it will soon be passed. Richardet says cigarettes are different from other litter, because they trap toxins, causing a much more severe threat to the environment. "Toxins such as nickel, cadmium, lead and arsenic, those are in the filters," said Richardet. "So as soon as those filters hit water, they begin leeching into our environment. Essentially, it's no longer litter, it's toxic waste and we have that on our beach." Richardet says if the ban is not passed, the problem will only get worse. "It's never ending and if it doesn't get passed, I guarantee I will have picked up 50,000," said Richardet. "I will have picked up 100,000."

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