SCRANTON -- Scranton is taking steps to regulate tobacco in the city.
Scranton City Council passed an ordinance to ban smoking in city parks at last night's meeting. Soon, signs will be hung at parks telling folks that cigarettes and other tobacco products are banned.
Police will enforce the new rule, and anyone caught with tobacco could be fined $25.
Andy Martino brought his son to Nay Aug Park in Scranton on Thursday. It's a place Martino spent a lot of time as a child. He was surprised to hear what hadn't changed in that time. Smoking is still permitted at Nay Aug Park.
"To be honest with you, I already thought it would have been passed. I didn't think you could smoke here," Martino said.
City council said the ban throughout most of the city parks is a sign of the times. Officers plan to continue regular patrols through the parks to enforce the ordinance.
"I think eventually you won't be able to smoke anywhere, except for in your house. But, I guess it's good not to have the litter around the park, too," Martino added.
Though you may not see people smoking in parks too much these days, the evidence of it is there, according to Martino. Newswatch 16 found cigarette butts littering a playground at Nay Aug Park.
"As far as smoking in a public, open space, I don't see anything wrong with it if people are conscientious and pick up their cigarette butts like I do," said Arthur Harris of Scranton.
Harris was taking a smoke break at Nay Aug Park Thursday. He wasn't too bothered by the new rule but feels he is running out of places to smoke.
So far, Nay Aug is the only city park not on the ban list. It's overseen by a separate authority, but city officials said the rule should soon apply there, too.
Joe Gatelli helps maintain the baseball fields at Connell Park on Scranton's south side and feels the formal smoking ban was a long time coming.
"I know, my wife included, [they] wish they had never started when they were young because they thought it was a cool thing to do. And the fact that kids don't see it, they don't see their athletes smoking, I think it's a fantastic thing," Gatelli said.
The tobacco ban at Scranton's city parks should take effect by the end of May.
City officials told Newswatch 16 the American Lung Association will pay for "no smoking" signs to go up in the parks. That's expected later on this year.