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Wrightsville Beach group one step closer to butt-free beach

READ MORE: WB group one step closer to butt-free beach
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- The debate on whether to ban smoking continued tonight at the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting. Supporters of the ban got one step closer to reaching their dream of a butt free beach.

The board originally voted three to two against a smoking ban, but supporters have put up a fight and if all goes to plan they just might get their wish.

A group supporting the smoking ban presented the board with a stack of signed petitions. Only 211 signatures were needed for the petition to be successful, but the group gathered more than 240.

“We basically did two days of actual canvassing of Wrightsville Beach by person,” said Sean Ahlum, a member of the Surfrider Foundation, the group pushing for the ban. “It was amazing, people were very willing to come out and sign it.”

Bonnie Monteleone was at the meeting and is a researcher at UNCW who travels the worlds oceans studying the accumulation of plastic. Plastic, she says, is not the issue at Wrightsville Beach.

“The problem is they're finding cigarette butts and that's the number one item they're finding in these samples on these beaches, so if we can eliminate the cigarette butts, we're going to have one of the cleanest beaches on the east coast,” Monteleone said.

The next step to get the ban in place is to have the petition certified by both the New Hanover County Board of Elections and the town clerk.

“I'm sure they all had valid reasons for why they want to do it and why they voted their way, I just think in my personal opinion that they voted the wrong way this time,” Ahlum said.

According to town attorney John Wessell, there is no set amount of time to verify the petition, but if put to a public vote, he says it would most likely go on the November ballot.

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