O'Hara Council says 'no' to smoking near township playgrounds

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

There will be no more lighting up in O'Hara playgrounds.

Council has given the green light to a smoking ban near play areas at all township parks, making the municipality the latest to join the state's Young Lungs at Play program.

“The playground areas should be smoke-free because of the kids,” township manager Julie Jakubec said.

Backed by the Allegheny County Health Department and Tobacco Free Allegheny, the effort began in 2010 to give children a healthier setting for play.

The initiative aims to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, which is considered a carcinogen. It also reduces long-term litter because cigarette butts are made of acetate and do not decompose easily. Instead, they can be swept into rivers and streams or be ingested by wildlife.

Locally, Aspinwall and Blawnox also have banned tobacco use in their parks. More than 40 of the county's 130 municipalities have made the pledge so far.

Jakubec said the township's parks and recreation committee recommended the policy not only because of the health benefits but because it removes the example of adults smoking in front of children.

Specifically, tobacco is banned from any wood covered play areas in the following parks: Schafer, Beulah Frey, Woodland, Meadow, Squaw, Sacco and Slim Jim. Tobacco Free Allegheny will provide free signs to hang.

There still are some areas where adults can smoke, Jakubec said.

“We rent the pavilions out to people and council didn't feel that we should be involved in private events,” she said.

In other business:

Council ratified a police contract for 2014-16. The deal gives the 14 officers a 2.75 percent wage increase the first year, and 2.5 percent in the following two years. Also, the standard dental package was increased from low to high coverage, Jakubec said.

“We came to an agreement in one meeting,” she said. “I think it's a great contract for both us and them.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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