WINCHESTER, VA- The local park is generally the place people go to enjoy free time. But, smokers may soon have one of their freedoms taken away.
The Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would allow localities to ban smoking in public parks and beaches. It's a decision that has some smokers heated.
"I think people should have their own opinion if they want to smoke," says Dennis Legg, a smoker.
Others are on the fence.
"My concern would be the littering of the cigarette butts and the children around that," says Elizabeth Parsons, a non-smoker.
Parks in Winchester and Frederick County already have some smoking restrictions in place. You can't smoke or use tobacco within 50 feet of public facilities.
"That includes playgrounds, recreation centers, outdoor pools, and bleachers," says Bradley Veach, Director of Winchester Parks and Recreation.
Smoking is allowed in open spaces, however. The City of Winchester and the Parks and Recreation Board did not agree with banning smoking entirely.
"We felt like by not allowing people to do it in open space, that it may infringe on their rights as an individual who may be there by themselves," says Veach. "So, the approach we took was in restricting it within certain areas within our parks."
For children, they say, the current ban is an effort to protect them from the cigarette butts that litter the area.
"Parents would stand there and watch their kids and we'd get complaints about kids picking up cigarette butts," Veach said. "That was the effort there was for the 50 foot perimeter where kids were playing."
Last week, the state senate passed a bill to ban smoking in cars with children inside. The house has since voted down that bill.