Lehighton Borough Council has amended an ordinance that prohibits smoking "and the carrying of lighted objects" in any of its borough parks.

The ordinance serves two purposes:

1. It offers police a tool to stop some loitering and potential drug abuse in borough parks. If they see individuals smoking, they have a legitimate reason to approach the individuals.

2. More important, it provides healthier and safer atmospheres in the park.

It's the second purpose which especially has a positive impact.

Anyone who has taken their young children or grandchildren to area playgrounds knows of the litter occurring by too many irresponsible smokers. There are cigarette butts in the grass, in sandboxes, on walkways.

This isn't an indictment of all cigarette smokers, but the abuses are prevalent enough to justify Lehighton Council's action.

In addition, often parents light- up when children are close-by or near other non-smoking adults. They don't seem to understand that just because they like tobacco, and don't mind the potentially harmful effects, that there are others who prefer not having that second-hand smoke enter their lungs.

Lehighton Borough Council did the right thing in updating the smoking ordinance regarding its borough parks. Certainly the police won't act like the Gestapo and harass those who use the public parks.

It's a very fair ordinance. Youngsters shouldn't have to tolerate the litter and smoke that a minority of smokers force upon them.

The Lehighton ordinance calls for a fine of $25 and costs for the first offense and $50 plus costs for the second offense within a calendar year. Continued offenses can result in $100 fines plus costs.

Hopefully, borough officials of other communities will share the same concerns that Lehighton Borough Council members have, especially for children. It would be great to have this policy of keeping tobacco away from playgrounds become a universal policy.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com