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Tobacco ban at rec areas grows

It might be slow, but it’s a success nonetheless. And it’s growing.

Almost a year after the Luzerne County chapter of Steps To A HealthierPA offered to help municipalities craft ordinances banning tobacco products in parks and playgrounds, six of the county’s 76 municipalities have signed on, said Carol Hussa, the chapter’s program manager.

Plains Township publicly began its program on Wednesday. Two other municipalities are working on such ordinances.

“What has happened is as municipalities implement this, and people see it in the paper, they get interested and want to know if they can do it,” Hussa said.

The program, called “Young Lungs at Play,” supplies to municipalities sample ordinances and information about tobacco bans in parks and playgrounds. After ordinances are passed, the group provides metal signs for the included recreational areas.

Hussa said the program saves municipalities time and money researching such ordinances, buying the signs and, particularly, in cleaning up tobacco-product paraphernalia from recreational areas.

The program has worked in other areas, both in and outside of Pennsylvania, Hussa said, and her chapter is simply copying a successful model.

While implementation and enforcement are left to each municipality to decide, Hussa said the greatest benefit is the signs. They give support to people who would otherwise be uncomfortable confronting smokers.

“It will empower regular citizens with the right to ask people not to smoke,” she said.

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