Smoking ban gets tougher in Montgomery County -- Gazette.Net



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With a few exceptions, smokers must soon step off Montgomery County property to enjoy a cigarette, cigar or pipe.

The County Council unanimously approved a bill Tuesday extending the local smoking ban to most county property.

The bill, proposed by Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, extended protections for nonsmokers beyond the county’s existing indoor smoking ban. It is currently illegal to smoke in most shared workspaces, private businesses, government buildings, rail stations, and eating and drinking establishments with a seating capacity of 50 or more.

Floreen’s bill extends the law to ban smoking on county owned or leased property including at bus stops and bus shelters (an amendment made by the council’s Health and Human Services committee), outside county libraries, in county parking garages, in outdoor recreation areas and in places like Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring.

“I’m delighted,” Floreen said. “I’m especially impressed by the minimal amount of community opposition to this bill and what it says, really, is that Montgomery County residents recognize the importance of minimizing smoking and maximizing the safety of their environment and this bill helps.”

Honed by the council’s Health and Human Services Committee, the bill allows smoking on county golf courses, county rights of way and in county-owned housing by current tenants.

But new tenants will not share the privilege, Councilman George L. Leventhal, who chairs the committee, noted.

The council also gave latitude to allow smoking at county treatment facilities, at the discretion of Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia.

If the director decides patients need an outdoor area to smoke, the bill allows her to designate one.

The director will will have discretion to post signs regarding the new ban.

County law requires signs be posted at the entrance of public places, but not all county property covered by the ban has an entrance where a sign can be posted.

An amendment proposed by staff and supported by the council allows the HHS director to waive the sign requirement if posting one is not feasible.

kalexander@gazette.net