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Smoking Ban Re-Introduced

The Montgomery County Council is going to try to pass a new ban on smoking in restaurants. The Council had passed a ban several years ago, but it never took effect due to a protracted legal battle. The ban was recently struck down in the courts.

“There’s more support for it now,” said Council Member Phil Andrews (D-3), one of the sponsors of the bill. “I think there’s a consensus around the country,” he said, noting numerous localities with similar bans.

The bill would ban smoking in all public restaurants. “I think that the parties involved have got to be coming to the realization that this is a basic demand of our community and our workers,” said Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), another sponsor.

Andrews believes that there is a veto-proof majority in council in favor of passing the bill.

“There’s a great deal of support for this,” he said. It is also being introduced as a Board of Health measure. “We know that a smoking ban does result in reducing exposure,” Andrews said.

Andrews does not think that ventilation systems are the answer.

“They reduce odor,” he said. Ventilation systems, however, do not reduce the number of particles in the air, according to Andrews.

Noting the number of studies which have linked smoking to health problems, Andrews believes it is in the interests of the public to impose the indoor ban. “It’s reasonable to ask smokers to step outside,” he said.

A public hearing on the bill has been tentatively scheduled for June 12.