If Lansdale Borough Council next week approves a recommendation from the parks and recreation committee last Wednesday, tobacco use will be banned from pools, parks, athletic fields, ballfields, tennis and basketball courts — and everywhere else children play on borough-owned properties.
If approved by council, signs would be posted to designate such places as tobacco-free zones.
Violaters who do not comply with the law will be ejected from the specific play area. Repeated violations will result in a fine from Lansdale Borough Police.
Borough Manager Timi Kirchner said the tobacco ban would be an awareness and education program to prevent tobacco use where young lungs are at play.
Signs would be provided free of charge by the state under its "Young Lungs At Play" program of the Penn State Cooperative Extension and Pennsylvania Department of Health's Southeastern Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Project. The borough estimates around $2,380 will be spent for labor and for the purchase of channel posts with hardware.
Kirchner said most of the enforcement would be self-policing. An educational program is planned where pamphlets on the "Young Lungs at Play" program will be distributed to citizens.
"Maybe people will think twice before lighting up as courtesy to others," Kirchner said.
The ban would not just be against cigarettes or cigars, but all forms of tobacco including chew and dip.
"This is a good first step," Kirchner said. "It captures the spirit of what (the committee) had in mind."
The following areas are proposed to be tobacco-free zones:
- Fourth Street Park, including the pool, basketball court, tennis court, T-ball fields and playground
- Memorial Park, including Weaver Field and grandstand and the tennis courts
- Moyer's Road Park, including the multipurpose ballfield
- Moyer's Road Little League Complex
- Schweiker Park (The borough will be working in conjunction with Hatfield Township on approval, as this park is jointly owned).
- Stony Creek Park playground
- Wedgewood Park, including the basketball court, tennis court and playground
- West Fifth Street Park, including the multipurpose ballfield, rest room shelter, basketball court and playground
- White's Road Park, including the pool, playground, basketball court and tennis courts
- York and Susquehanna Park playground
Lansdale Police Chief Robert McDyre said he doesn't want officers to feel like "cigarette police."
"We will not give out tickets for smoking," McDyre said. "You will be ejected if you refuse to leave."
McDyre said a ticket or fine would be a "last resort."
"I don't see it getting to that," he said. "This is a real good, fair way to treat people in town."
Kirchner said, if passed, the ordinance would be a test pilot on this approach.
"It makes sense to focus where children play and make that successful, and then talk about others as we move forward," she said.
She said the ordinance would give the committee flexibility to add and delete tobacco-free zones.
Parks and Recreation Director Carl Saldutti said the recommendation is a sign of the times.
"There was a time when you could smoke in council chambers. It was a common practice. Now, it's a no brainer," he said.
Councilman Steve Malagari, who sits on the parks committee, suggested the posting of signs could be an Eagle Scout project.
Committee Chair Mary Fuller thought the recommendation was great. She said it's a common sense thing for people to police themselves.
"I'm glad we're moving forward. I think it's necessary," she said.