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Pennsylvania Township Passes Anti-Tobacco Law

Smoking, using, purchasing or even possessing cigarettes or other tobacco products becomes illegal in Pittston Township, Pa., this week for anyone under 18 years old, according to a report in The Citizen's Voice.

Supervisors voted 3-0 to enact an ordinance making any of those acts a summary criminal offense. Violators could face a fine of $250 for each offense.

"It's a very good ordinance," said Police Chief Stephen Rinaldi, who had requested the supervisors pass the law.

A woman suggested the parents should have to pay the fine. Solicitor John Finnerty said it was illegal to impose a fine against an adult for a crime committed by their child.
Chief Rinaldi said youths who could not pay the fine would have to perform community service. He said that likely would be the penalty on the first offense.

The penalty would be up to the magisterial district judge, in whose office police would file the tobacco citations.

Chief Rinaldi first suggested the ordinance at the May supervisors' meeting, when he told the supervisors he was tired of seeing 13- and 14-year-olds walking around with cigarettes in their mouths. He said he has seen children as young as nine smoking in public. The chief said he wanted police to have the power to cite teens who smoke in public.

The wording on the ordinance states the supervisors were enacting the ordinance because they "are concerned for the health, welfare and safety of all minors in the township."

The state crimes code prohibits selling or furnishing of tobacco to anyone younger than 18 and prohibits those under 18 from representing themselves as 18 or older. The crimes code also prohibits the use of tobacco in schools by anyone under 21.
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