Man pushes for smoking ban at Waterloo parks - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Man pushes for smoking ban at Waterloo parks

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After noticing a big problem of littered cigarettes scattered all across one Waterloo park, Bryan Vestal decided to do something about it. 

Orange flags in hand, Vestal scoured every cigarette butt in Lafayette park in Waterloo. Next to each cigarette butt, he placed a flag. After going through the whole park, he used 300 flags. That's 300 cigarette butts. 

Vestal says he got the idea when he was working out in the park and started noticing all the smokers, and the cigarettes they were leaving behind. Vestal quit smoking 16 years ago, and although his mouth hasn't touched a cigarette for years, he says he still feels the effects.

"I have trouble breathing when people are smoking around me," said Vestal. 

In order to prevent children in the community from feeling those same effects due to second-hand smoke, he decided he would become an advocate for smoking bans in parks. 

Using the flags to create awareness, Vestal hopes people will wake up to the reality of what their parks have turned into.  Vestal says so far, he's been met with support from parents in the area. 

"They seem to be amazed that there's so many cigarette butts right here next to the children area," said Vestal. "And generally even if they're smokers, they're against smoking in the area here."

Tammy Wordes, who brings her grandkids to Lafayette Park, has noticed the cigarettes butts being a problem. 

"I think it's awesome, being a mom and a grandma I don't think smoking should be around little kids," said Tammy Wordes. "I just think the parks and playgrounds and stuff should be smoke free. You want to smoke, go somewhere else."

Other than the obvious littering, Vestal says he wants to make sure the children at the park aren't exposed to second-hand smoke.

"It'd be nice if we had a sign right up here, where they smoked, that tells them not to smoke," said Vestal. 

Vestal says he has been reaching out to Waterloo city council members, and hopes to discuss a possible ban in the future. If Waterloo outlaws smoking in parks, the city would be following the lead of other Iowa cities including Des Moines and Marion. 

For more information on the initiative, visit the Cedar Valley Tobacoo-Free Parks Facebook page

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