Friday, July 31, 2015

Give green light to park smoking ban

Vacationers looking to dip their toes in the water at state parks in Pennsylvania should welcome a pilot project that bans smoking at park beaches.

Give green light to park smoking ban

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Vacationers looking to dip their toes in the water at state parks in Pennsylvania should welcome a pilot project that bans smoking at park beaches.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says the move is primarily aimed at reducing cigarette litter and the expense required to have park employees pick up after smokers day after day. But limits on smoking also will create a healthier climate for nonsmoking park patrons, while giving smokers one more nudge to kick the habit.

The department hasn’t named the parks with lakes where the pilot program could be tried, and the time line for implementing the ban remains open-ended at this point.

Pennsylvania, though, already trails some neighboring states that are either considering or already using smoking bans at their parks to attract visitors who value an open-air experience that doesn’t involve inhaling dangerous smoke fumes.

Do you favor a ban on smoking in Pa. state parks?
Yes, it’s healthier, will also reduce litter
No, plenty of room in parks to let smokers puff
Yes, as long as it starts as a pilot program
No, too much government control

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in all city parks more than a year ago. Camden County recently followed suit by prohibiting smoking across its park system, with a special emphasis on shielding children from secondhand smoke.

Given Gov. Corbett’s tight rein on state spending, a strategy that reduces park litter and maintenance costs makes sense. Discouraging smoking amid the splendor of the state parks benefits both out-of-state visitors and the many Pennsylvanians who in these poor economic times are vacationing close to home.

The no-smoking policy is also in keeping with the parks’ mission of connecting people to nature and living healthier lives. The sooner park officials begin posting no-smoking signs, the better.

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