Town considers ban on outdoor teen smoking
ROBESONIA, Pa. - Officials want to extinguish teen smoking in the playground and make theirs possibly the first municipality in the state to prohibit minors from smoking outdoors.
Robesonia Borough Council is considering an ordinance prohibiting anyone under 18 from using tobacco products outside.
"We want to stop them from smoking while they're young, before they get hooked on it," said Mayor Frank W. Schnee. "We want to see them grow up to be happy and healthy."
Pennsylvania law prohibits minors from purchasing tobacco and forbids the sale of tobacco to minors. The state does not restrict minors from possessing tobacco unless they are on school property.
Marian M. Nailor, director of township services for the State Association of Township Supervisors, said she wasn't aware of any other municipality in the state with a ban on outdoor teen smoking.
David DiSabatino, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the ban would not violate civil liberties because there is no constitutional right to smoke.
The municipality about 50 miles from Philadelphia is researching the legality of a ban, which could also help reduce the number of cigarette butts in public places, officials said.
"The kids are so brazen, they leave their butts on the playground right behind the police station," said Lisa K. Heilman, borough secretary.
Several Womelsdorf teens playing basketball at the Robesonia playground said the ordinance would be ineffective.
"This won't stop anybody from smoking," said Jesse Sensenig, 17. "It won't stop me. It's pointless to even try this. It's only going to start a war between the cops and the kids."
Offenders would be fined and ordered to perform community service, officials said.