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Harrisburg welcomes statewide tobacco-free playground initiative

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — At the playground on Emerald Street in Uptown Harrisburg between 4th and 5th Streets, two new signs welcome guests at the top of the park steps.

“Young Lungs At Play!” the sign reads. “This is a tobacco-free zone.”

There is one in English, and one right next to it in Spanish.

Soon, these signs will be placed at every playground, swimming pool, and most parks throughout the city.

On Thursday, Harrisburg announced it’s joining Pennsylvania’s statewide “Young Lungs At Play” tobacco-free program. Moving forward, no smoking or tobacco products will be allowed. If caught, it carries a $50 fine.

“We are trying to invest in our youth,” Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said. “We want to set a cultural standard that smoking is not okay. We want kids to play here outside of those influences.”

Papenfuse wants to hire a second park ranger for the upcoming legislative year. He estimates it will pay $44,000, and plans to make an official announcement about it Tuesday evening at his annual budget address in front of city council.