State Considers Ban on Smoking at Parks

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Pennsylvania is considering a ban on cigarette smoking at state parks.  The plan is still on the drawing board. But officials say it’s a possibility after complaints from park goers about smoking and cigarette butts littering the landscape.

After weeks of warm weather, the beach at Ricketts Glen State Park in Luzerne County has been a popular place and the remains of smoking park-goers are easy to find.

There are cigarette butts on the beach. There are butts in the picnic areas.  There are butts in many parts of the park.

“They clean it and you can still see some around and it’s just not like, it doesn’t fit the environment, you know,” said Nicholas Kinney of Forty Fort.

A state spokesperson said complaints about all the butts are the main reason a smoking ban is under consideration. Second hand smoke is a concern too.

Many of the people we talked with at the park support stopping smoking.

“Well it’s better than having those butts laying all over,” said Erma Bush of Shickshinny.

“I think it’s great and you come here Saturday and it’s really busy, it’s not really family oriented to have cigarette butts everywhere and it’s just really gross altogether,” said Sarah Walton of Larksville.

A state DCNR spokesperson said it is just considering banning smoking cigarettes at state parks right now.  He said it would probably start as a pilot program at one or two parks to see how it goes.  They are also considering whether they will just ban smoking at beaches or park-wide.

“If they ban it, it would be kind of stupid because there are a lot of smokers,” said smoker Roberto Guercio of Williamsport.  “They should just have a designated area for smokers just because there are a lot of smokers out there, it would be great if they did that. “

There are some ash trays at Ricketts Glen.  Guercio said he uses those and thinks more smokers would stop littering if there were specific spots to smoke.

“I do see that but I try, I put my butt right here and I’m taking it back with me and disposing of it properly,” he said. “But if they did have a designated area with ash trays so everyone could take their butts and put them there it would be great. “

A ban on cigarette smoking at state parks is just an idea the state is thinking about now. But one that is drawing all kinds of opinions.