October 3, 2012 —
During the comment period of the monthly meeting of the Damascus Township Board, resident Barbara Davis Dexter urged the township council to pay heed to the provisions of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Clean Indoor Air Act, which she suggests the council has been ignoring.
“The Clean Air Act, Act 27 of 2008, was signed into law on June 13, 2008,” Davis Dexter said, reading from a copy of the law. “The legislation prohibits smoking in public places and workplaces and lists examples of what is considered a public place and a workplace. The bill allows for some exceptions.
“I am very allergic to such smoke,” she said. “When I attended a meeting here a while ago, I could not stay in the room. I had to leave. Smoking was taking place in this building.”
She had a copy of a violation report that any citizen can submit to the state Department of Health.
“If someone had the mindset to enforce this, it could be a penalty of up to $5,000 and a minimum of $250 per incident,” she said. “I think you should take this seriously.” The money for the penalty would be coming from the taxpayers, she said, not from the pockets of the smokers.
“It’s in the employees’ manual that is being adopted any day now,” said Jeff Dexter, chairman of the township board.
“The department website says the law should be enforced in the workplace,” she said. “It says that ash trays and other related smoking items must be removed from the workplace.”
The act was passed in 2008, she said. “It should be enforced. I think it’s time.”
If some citizen wanted to make a stink, she said, the township could not afford the penalties. The penalty for not posting a “No Smoking” sign, for instance, is $250 to $1,000 per incident.
The chairman turned and pointed to a “No Smoking” sign that appeared on a bulletin board in the room.
There is a section of the law that discusses enforcement but does not spell out details, like who enforces it, how many are assigned to enforcement, what are the procedures for enforcement and how are penalties collected.
“A complaint should be filed by a citizen if the ‘working garage’ is an actual workplace,” said Kathleen Gillis of the state Department of Health. The law applies to all workplaces, and a garage (such as an auto repair shop garage) is a workplace and must be fee of smoke.”
The 1860 Wayne County Map
In other board action, the Damascus Historical Society presented a fully framed, large map of Wayne County that has an 1860 date on it from a mapping company in Philadelphia.
The map also has inserts of small scenes of various communities in the county.
“This is a local treasure that should be seen by the public,” said Davis Dexter, president of the Damascus Historical Society. “We are not giving this to you, but asking that you hang it in your offices here.”