A proposal by Ross Township commissioner Daniel DeMarco to make township parks and playgrounds tobacco-free failed to gain much traction at the commissioners’ committee this week.
DeMarco pointed to a recent release from the Allegheny County Health Department which lauded seven new communities -- Dravosburg, McKees Rocks, Monroeville, North Versailles, Robinson, Stowe and Wall – for making their parks, playgrounds, and other outdoor recreational areas tobacco-free.
Thirty-four of the Allegheny County’s 130 municipalities are now part of Pennsylvania’s Young Lungs at Play program, which aims to reduce children’s exposure to harmful second hand smoke, said the health department in a recent news release.
“I think this is good, this is a matter of health, and also our parks seemed to be littered with cigarette butts,” said DeMarco.
Currently, smoking is only prohibited inside township owned buildings.
“The question I have is how are you going to enforce it? What are you going to charge people if they are caught smoking,” asked Commissioner John Sponcer. “Are you going to have a police officer walking around one of the parks, if someone has rented it?”
Commissioner Lana Mazur echoed that sentiment.
“There’s no way we’re going to send police officers to try and write ticket for somebody smoking. I’m telling you we don’t have enough police officers to patrol and do all the things they need to do now for them to monitor smoking,” she said.
Commissioner Gerald R. O’Brien was somewhat surprised the issue came up.
“I’ve never gotten a complaint about it, and I smoke,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you, some of the people’s perfume in the parks is more offensive to me that cigarette smells.”
In the end, the commissioners agreed to place a message in the next edition of the Ross Record, asking smokers to be respectful of non-smokers in Ross parks and other outdoor facilities.
“We don’t want to become the ‘big brother’ township,” said O’Brien.