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Shaler officials to vote on whether to make township parks smoke free

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It might be lights out for smokers in Shaler Township parks if officials vote to implement a new program.

Shaler Township Board of Commissioners will consider joining the Young Lungs at Play initiative, a program offered through Tobacco Free Allegheny to create tobacco free playgrounds and parks in the county, at its Tuesday, March 12, meeting.

The Board of Commissioners considered implementing the program last year but tabled it in favor of obtaining more information about how to start the program and enforce it.

“I think we should restrict the smoking in the park,” said Commissioner Bill Cross, during the parks and recreation committee meeting last week.

“It doesn't make sense. It's hazardous … and I don't think it belongs there.”

Cross said he became more open to the program after doing some more research and talking to the director of the county program.

“My suggestion is to implement it, in a controlled environment, in one of the parks and see how it works.”

Commissioners agreed that Kiwanis Park and Crawford Pool would be the best place to pilot the program; however, commissioners still have concerns.

“What if parents leave children unsupervised at the pool to go smoke,” said Lori Voegtly Mozgorski, a member of the parks and recreation committee. “Will they be going to their car to smoke, taking their children into the car to smoke, going into the woods?”

Other commissioners questioned how the initiative would be regulated.

Shaler Township Police Chief Bryan Kelly said the rule would be “very difficult” to enforce.

“If you're going to ask the police to do that, you need a health safety ordinance (for them to enforce),” said Harlan Stone, an attorney with Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C. and legal representation for the township.

Currently, more than 35 municipalities have created tobacco free parks through the program including Aspinwall, Franklin Park and Millvale boroughs and Reserve Township.

The parks and recreation committee voted to recommend considering the implementation of the program to the full board of commissioners this month.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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