Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
BYLINE: Bernard Harris
DATELINE: Lancaster, PA
Second-hand smoke can have serious health consequences, cigarette butts can litter the ground for years and, most importantly, adults smoking models unhealthy behavior for children.
Those are among the reasons Lancaster City Council on Tuesday voted to ban tobacco use in the city’s public parks and playgrounds.
The city became the second municipality in the county to adopt “Young Lungs at Play,” a state Health Department initiative. Mountville previously had adopted a similar policy.
“Parks are about health. They’re about a healthy lifestyle,” said Angela Trout, communication coordinator of the YWCA of Lancaster, who spoke on behalf of the program.
The initiative will supply signs that will be posted at all city parks. The signs advise readers “this is a tobacco-free zone.”
Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray acknowledged the rule is not a city law. There is no fine for smoking or chewing tobacco, and no one will be arrested for violating the rule.
The resolution passed unanimously by City Council members does state that violators can be asked to leave the park or playground.
Gray said “civility” will be the enforcement.
“Hopefully, people will recognize the fact that they should be considerate of others,” the mayor said.
Mary McNelis LeVasseur, manager of Lancaster General Health’s Community Health & Wellness program and a member of the Tobacco Free Coalition of Lancaster County, said the program is being funded through the 1998 legal settlement with large tobacco companies.
Much of the millions the state receives annually in settlement funds is directed to smoking cessation and prevention efforts.
Also on Tuesday, council members approved:
nA resolution supporting the Coalition for a Bicycle Friendly Lancaster and directing the administration to develop an action plan to make the city more hospitable to bicycle riders.
The city would utilize the recommendations of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly program to encourage cycling as a means of transportation. Efforts likely will include driver and cyclists education and accommodations such as the addition of bike lanes to city streets.
nA bill approving the borrowing of $7 million from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority.
Funds from the low-interest loan will be used for “green” infrastructure improvements, such as planting trees and adding porous pavement to parking lots and alleyways intended to capture stormwater that would otherwise flow into the city sewer system.
During heavy storms, rainwater overwhelms the city water treatment plant and overflows into the Conestoga River. The city is under a mandate from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate the overflows.
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