Ross holding public hearing on smoking, vaping ban in 23 parks |
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Tony LaRussa

Ross commissioners are planning to hold a public hearing on Feb. 11 to take comment from residents about a proposal to outlaw the use of all tobacco and vaping products in township parks.

The measure proposed earlier this month by Commissioner Jason Pirring would make cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and other electronic vaping devices punishable by a fine of between $100 and $1,000 for violators who use them in the parks.

The measure covers the municipality’s 23 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities. The board voted unanimously to move forward with the next step needed to enact the law, which is the required public hearing.

Board President Steve Korbel said a vote to enact the ban could be cast once the public hearing has concluded.

Pirring said an initial draft of the ordinance was tweaked to add so-called “look-alike” tobacco and vaping products to the list of prohibited items.

The revised draft also eliminates language that would have extended the ban to all municipal properties — a move that would require negotiations with the union representing township employees, Pirring said.

While smoking already is prohibited in township buildings, employees and visitors are allowed to step outside for a smoke.

Smokers would have to step off township property to light up if the ban is extended.

Korbel noted that while the ballfields and other facilities in the park at the municipal building are covered by the ban, smokers will still be allowed to puff outside the entrance of the building, which is used for numerous kids and adult activities.

Pirring said the non-profit group Young Lungs at Play, which advocates for smoke-free recreation areas, supports the new law and will cover the cost of posting no-smoking signs in the township’s parks.

Commissioner Joe Laslavic noted that the smoking ban extends to all sports teams and spectators who play on township fields.

The commissioner, who is involved in youth sports, said the ban will be brought up during meetings between coaches and players preparing for the spring sports season “so they can relay it to their parents.”

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or [email protected] or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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