Lans­dale smok­ing ban at least a month away

North Penn Life - - NEWS - By Dan Sokil dsokil@jour­nal­reg­is­

A po­ten­tial smok­ing ban in Lans­dale’s parks, pools and play­grounds is at least an­other month away.

Bor­ough staff mem­bers are work­ing on a list of po­ten­tial “play ar­eas” where a ban could be im­ple­mented as soon as next month, as a dis­cus­sion about whether to ban or re­strict smok­ing on all other bor­ough prop­er­ties con­tin­ues, ac­cord­ing to Bor­ough Man­ager Timi Kirch­ner.

“These are two very dif­fer­ent or­di­nances that would have to be done, re­lated to dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the bor­ough,” she said.

“Let your staff look into this, some­thing as mon­u­men­tal as this — and it is mon­u­men­tal — be­cause we are talk­ing about a sig­nif­i­cant re­stric­tion on all of the lands that are owned by the bor­ough,” Kirch­ner said.

A ban in bor­ough parks was ini­tially dis­cussed, but voted down last month for fur­ther dis­cus­sion, and Kirch­ner told sev­eral coun­cil com­mit­tees Wed­nes­day night that staff mem­bers are now look­ing into the fea­si­bil­ity of rec­om­mend­ing to coun­cil smok­ing bans in two phases.

7KH firVW SKDVH wRuOG be sim­i­lar to the in­tent of the ini­tia­tive orig­i­nally dis­cussed last month and would elim­i­nate smok­ing and other tobacco use out­side of des­ig­nated ar­eas at bor­ough play­grounds, pools and pos­si­bly parks — al­though staff mem­bers are now work­ing to definH “SODy DrHDV” WR cODrLIy where that ban would be in place.

“We felt that that was some­thing that was very rea­son­able, and also doable. Part of that, to me, is that it’s a no-brainer: there are young chil­dren at play” in those des­ig­nated play ar­eas, she said.

Kirch­ner, bor­ough Parks and oe­cre­ation Di­rec­tor Carl Sal­dutti and coun­cil are work­ing to iden­tify those play ar­eas and will presHnW WKRVH WKHy’YH LGHnWL­fiHG when the parks com­mit­tee meets in Oc­to­ber, but will tackle that sep­a­rately from a wider ban on all bor­ough prop­er­ties.

That sec­ond step was brought up at coun­cil’s Au­gust meet­ing by Coun­cil­man Paul Cle­mente — who was ab­sent from Wed­nes­day night’s meet­ings — when he sug­gested that since the bor­ough’s so­lic­i­tor was pre­par­ing a park ban, why not look at writ­ing a wider ban at the same time?

Kirch­ner told coun­cil Wed­nes­day night that af­ter staff dis­cus­sion and de­lib­er­a­tion, “there are no economies of scale” by try­ing to write both bans at once, but staff mem­bers have found new re­sources and new costs that could help with both steps.

The bor­ough has been in contact with the state Depart­ment of Health on how its “Young Lungs at Play” pro­gram could help in­form bor­ough res­i­dents about zones and bans and pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial and sig­nage that en­cour­age smok­ers to watch out for younger res­i­dents.

“Signs that say ‘Please be cour­te­ous: Think be­fore you smoke,’ that is a mes­sage to smok­ers that, as they en­ter into an area, they need to look around and see that other peo­ple are there that are not smok­ing,” Kirch­ner said.

The in­tent is “not treat­ing smok­ers like crim­i­nals, so to speak, but is say­ing to them ‘Don’t share your sec­ond­hand smoke with other peo­ple,’” and lets non-smok­ers point out the bor­ough’s mes­sage with­out re­ly­ing on po­lice to en­force it, Kirch­ner said.

Dur­ing the parks com­mit­tee’s talks, Sal­dutti said he’s been re­search­ing smok­ing bans and re­stric­tions in nearby mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, as well as with the state health depart­ment and the Clean Air Coun­cil of Philadel­phia; the lat­ter group’s sug­ges­tion was to start with smaller re­stric­tions while dis­cussing and work­ing out the larger ones.

“They did say that if you did play­grounds, you’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. It is a start, and if you want to ex­pand it, cer­tainly then you could ex­pand it,” Sal­dutti said.

While the out­side agency has of­fered to help with sig­nage and ed­u­ca­tion, there are down­sides to a wider ban, Kirch­ner said.

Be­yond the le­gal costs of pre­par­ing those new rules, the bor­ough would have to iden­tify and des­ig­nate cer­tain smok­ing zones, put equip­ment and sig­nage there and de­ter­mine how to mon­i­tor and en­force the ban.

“That costs money, both in terms of cre­at­ing [zones], putting the spe­cial ash trays there that you see in those ar­eas and then main­tain­ing them, be­cause they are of­ten van­dal­ized, and clean­ing up all around that area,” she said.

“How far do we push our own peo­ple as far as en­force­ment is con­cerned? And how much time is that tak­ing them away from reg­u­lar du­ties that we would like them to be do­ing? We’ve only be­gun to scratch be­low the sur­face,” Kirch­ner said.

Coun­cil’s parks and re­cre­ation and ad­min­is­tra­tion DnG finDncH cRPPLWWHHV bRWK dis­cussed the po­ten­tial ban Wed­nes­day night, af­ter each heard a sim­i­lar re­port from the man­ager.

In the parks com­mit­tee, Coun­cil­man oich Didrego­rio pointed out that pri­vate sports clubs do po­lice smok­ing by their mem­bers DW bDOO fiHOGV Rn FLIWK SWrHHW, and Kirch­ner said that will be a con­sid­er­a­tion when staff de­vel­ops its list of play ar­eas.

“We have prop­er­ties that peo­ple con­gre­gate in all the time, and this is the law of un­in­tended con­se­quences: we have to think about what we’d be do­ing to the neigh­bor­hood in and around those parks,” she said.

“If peo­ple can­not smoke in our parks, where are they go­ing to go smoke? Over across the street, and if that’s a res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood, sud­denly you have cig­a­rette butts on peo­ple’s pri­vate prop­erty,” Kirch­ner said.

Coun­cil­man Steve Mala­gari pointed out that foot­bDOO DnG bDVHbDOO fiHOGV, WHn­nis and bas­ket­ball courts and even oail­road Plaza could WHcKnLcDOOy bH GHfinHG DV “bDOO fiHOGV” DnG bH cRYHrHG un­der the ini­tial ban, and Kirch­ner said that’s why staff will de­velop its list of play ar­eas with the “Young Lungs at Play” theme in mind.

No rough draft of a play area list has been de­vel­oped by staff yet, ac­cord­ing to Kirch­ner, but one will be pre­sented to the parks com­mit­tee when it meets in Oc­to­ber, and the com­mit­tee could vote then to rec­om­mend that coun­cil ap­prove the play area ban at its sec­ond meet­ing in Oc­to­ber.

The bor­ough’s oail­road Plaza ad­ja­cent to the Lans­dale Train Sta­tion is con­sid­ered a bor­ough prop­erty and part of the parks sys­tem, but would likely avoid des­ig­na­tion as a play area for the first phase of the ban, ac­cord­ing to Kirch­ner.

She added that the bor­ough’s Park­ing Author­ity has not be­gun dis­cus­sion on any sim­i­lar ban on prop­er­ties it owns such as bor­ough park­ing lots, but said the pol­icy man­ual for bor­ough em­ploy­ees does pro­hibit smok­ing in bor­oughowned ve­hi­cles — “and they would be walk­ing to those ve­hi­cles on bor­ough prop­erty” that could be af­fected by the wider ban, Kirch­ner said.

Sal­dutti added that he could make pub­lic an­nounce­ments be­fore events in bor­ough parks that res­i­dents be cour­te­ous of oth­ers, and Kirch­ner said staff have LGHnWL­fiHG RWKHr cRnVLGHra­tions with cer­tain prop­er­ties — for ex­am­ple, Bor­ough Hall em­ploy­ees cur­rently could smoke near that build­ing’s front en­trance, but the build­ing’s HsAC sys­tem could in­gest that smoke into the build­ing’s air sys­tem and im­pact other em­ploy­ees inside.

Dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion DnG finDncH cRPPLWWHH GLV­cus­sion, Coun­cil­man Dan Du­ni­gan pointed out that the knee-jerk re­ac­tion to ban smok­ing on all prop­er­ties might not be the cor­rect ap­proach legally ei­ther, since “it is still cur­rently le­gal to smoke — al­though some may dis­ap­prove, it is still le­gal to buy and smoke cig­a­rettes.”

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Matt West added that those signs can be used to help build community aware­ness as res­i­dents work to­gether to make each other aware of re­stric­tions or zones, in­stead of en­cour­ag­ing bad be­hav­ior by pro­hibit­ing it out­right.

“It’s the psy­cho­log­i­cal ap­proach where if you say, ‘Don’t do some­thing,’ peo­ple do it. Maybe it’s my skill set from hav­ing three young boys, but if you don’t want peo­ple to do it, put the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the end user” to avoid the “Young Lungs at Play” ar­eas, West said.

Both com­mit­tees said they will continue the dis­cus­sion on the play area des­ig­na­tions and the wider ban when the com­mit­tees next meet Oct. 3.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic can also of­fer pub­lic com­ment at coun­cil’s busi­ness meet­ing, which is sched­uled for T p.m. Sept. 19, and if the com­mit­tee rec­om­mends a play area ban in Oc­to­ber, it could come be­fore coun­cil for ap­proval Oct. 1T.

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