- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A Reno County youth organization is pushing for the Kansas State Fair to ban smoking throughout the fair grounds.

The 150-member group, called Communities That Care, has twice discussed its research and ideas on a smoking ban with the state fair board, which will consider the request Tuesday, The Hutchinson News (http://bit.ly/1bZMoys ) reported.

Smoking currently isn’t allowed in the fair buildings or in the grandstand seating area. The youth group wants the fair board to expand that ban to the entire grounds, saying it would create a healthier environment for fairgoers.

“Our target isn’t against smokers, it is for a healthy environment for everyone,” said Maddie Page, a Hutchinson High School senior, adding the goal is to make the fair “a pleasant place to be.”

Fair manager Denny Stoecklein said the board has to consider that about 20 percent - or 78,000 fairgoers each year - are smokers. He said other issues are accommodating vendors who smoke and how to enforce the ban.

Charlie Griffin, who has several stands across the fairgrounds, said he’s not a smoker but whether such a policy should be implemented is a touchy issue among vendors.

“It’s a tough deal all the way around,” he said. “You can’t make everyone happy.”

Spencer Duncan runs the fair’s wine garden with his family and said he doesn’t think anything should change.

“I get it; it’s a tough spot for the fair board,” Duncan said. “I’m not a smoker. But I feel like the fairgrounds are open enough that it is not as big of an issue.”

More than 15 state fairs have implemented outdoor smoking restrictions. Most have designated areas where smokers can go while a few have kicked cigarette butts all together.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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