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Ashland discusses ban on smoking in park

ASHLAND — Despite the best efforts of an Eastern Kentucky city and its hospital to limit smoking, cigarette butts continue to litter a park near the medical center where smokers hang out.

Smokers have taken to Central Park, near the hospital, after the city of Ashland barred lighting up on the streets around King's Daughters Medical Center, The Daily Independent newspaper reported. The butt problem is happening at the park even though a smokers' kiosk was put on top of the hospital parking garage over the winter.

Ashland's parks and recreation department director, Sean Murray, said the issue of smoking in the park is frequently discussed. The park board has discussed barring smoking in the park.

"I believe that issue could become a greater priority once the summer months and warmer weather have come back. The park board, I'm sure they will take whatever action is necessary to help protect the park," Murray said.

The idea of such a ban is proving unpopular among smokers.

Rick LeMaster, 54, a Paintsville resident and visitor to the hospital, smokes in Central Park. He said hospital staff directed him to the park after saying he couldn't smoke in his car in the parking lot.

"They ought to furnish a spot over there instead of telling us to come over here," he said. "It ain't up to the city; it's the hospital's problem. They are the ones that should have to clean up the mess."

Ashland resident James D. Sloan, 65, walks his dog, Whiskers, around Central Park just about every day. Sloan is a smoker and said he wouldn't support a smoking ban in the park.

Instead, Sloan said, the hospital should do something to keep the area cleaner.