SHARON COUNCIL Police seek tobacco-use law for minors
The law would make it illegal for kids to use tobacco products in public places.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
SHARON, Pa. -- There are laws against selling or furnishing tobacco products to minors, but there are no laws in Pennsylvania or Sharon banning the use of tobacco products by minors.
That could change under a plan the municipal police department presented to city council Thursday..
The police are asking council to enact an ordinance making it illegal for anyone under age 18 to use any tobacco products in any public place.
Capt. Michael Menster said Police Chief Thomas Burke came up with the plan in response to numerous complaints from residents who see groups of 30 to 40 kids congregating in alleys and on their properties near Sharon Middle/High School to smoke before and after classes.
"I see nothing wrong with passing an ordinance like that," said Councilwoman Chris Outrakis.
Councilman Lou Rotunno also supported the idea.
Menster said the ordinance would likely carry a citation and fine as well as require police to notify the offender's parents.
Offenders could also be sent to the local Community Court program set up to deal with other minor offenses, he said.
The Community Court can set punishments, direct restitution and take similar action.
Menster said there are no state or local laws dealing with this issue.
Not everyone in the audience thinks it's a good idea.
"Leave these kids alone," said Carol Swartz of Lorain Street.
Kids have already been banned from using their bicycles and skateboards downtown, and the city is just driving them away, she said, adding that police have better things to do than chase after kids who smoke.
Council President Fred Hoffman said police officials, the mayor and the city solicitor will prepare an ordinance for council consideration.