State considering trial smoking ban at two parks
By Adam Wagner
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is considering a trial smoking ban at two of Pennsylvania's 120 parks in response to complaints about litter, particularly cigarette butts discarded in lakes and on beaches, an official said.
Policy at state parks, including Point State Park, forbids lighting up inside structures but allows smoking outdoors.
Officials haven't selected the test sites for next year's ban, said Terry Brady, deputy press secretary, but they want one park with a body of water. Cleaning cigarettes from beaches, particularly filtered cigarettes that do not decompose quickly, keeps employees from working on other projects, he said. He did not provide cleanup costs.
“We're moving toward some type of restriction, that's for sure,” Brady said.
Michelle Warren, 57, of Monroeville regularly smokes while strolling through Point State Park during her lunch break.
“If they want to eliminate smoking, then they need to stop the sale of cigarettes,” Warren said. “If I can't buy them, I can't very well smoke them. They knew when they put them out there that they were dangerous, anyway. They allowed them to be sold; let me smoke them.”
Though no date is set for a trial ban, if it's successful it could lead to a smoking ban at all state parks, Brady said.
Dan Bickel, park operations manager of Moraine State Park in Butler County, said lifeguards and park representatives advise smokers to move away from crowded areas to light up but no written laws prevent visitors from lighting up in crowds.
“We haven't had any complaints about people smoking outside, so we don't really see it as an issue at this time,” Bickel said. “We tend to gauge problems based on visitor complaints and we've gotten very few about smoking.”
Thirty-four Allegheny County municipalities banned smoking in parks, including seven this year — Dravosburg, McKees Rocks, Monroeville, North Versailles, Robinson, Stowe and Wall — as part of Pennsylvania's Young Lungs at Play program, which aims to reduce children's exposure to secondhand smoke.
Young Lungs at Play provides resources to communities that consider smoking bans, such as sample ordinances or resolutions and free no-smoking signs once an ordinance is adopted.
Banning smoking in parks prevents not just litter but secondhand smoke, said Cindy Thomas, executive director of Tobacco Free Allegheny, which administers the local branch of Young Lungs at Play. A smoking ban might keep children from imitating parents who smoke.
“If we can eliminate the number of places where kids see adult smoking, fewer kids will smoke later in life,” Thomas said.
Westmoreland County has not banned smoking at any of its parks but has tobacco-free zones in areas such as playgrounds, said Dan Carpenter, communications coordinator for the county's Parks and Recreation Department.
“We've heard from parents. Parents appreciate that the places where little kids are, it's not allowed there,” he said. “We know it's a major issue across the country and the state and we are constantly evaluating the right amount of usage in parks.”
Monroeville Councilman Nick Gresock supported that municipality's decision to ban smoking in its parks.
“It's really just about people and children enjoying fresh activities and getting fresh air,” Gresock said. “And cigarette smoke does not tie in with that.”
Adam Wagner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7956 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.