Council Approves Ban on Smoking

The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 33-12 that will establish a ban on smoking on most County owned or leased property.

Bill 33-12, whose chief sponsor was Council member Nancy Floreen and which was co-sponsored by Council members Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer, will prohibit smoking on property owned or leased by the County.

The approved bill included recommended amendments from its original form suggested by the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee. The committee recommended that the bill expand the ban to bus stops and bus shelters.

Another recommendation will allow the County’s director of Health and Human Services to designate outdoor smoking areas on certain County properties. This change was made with concerns on the impact Bill 33-12 could have on County-owned and -leased facilities that house programs used to treat people with addictions. It was pointed out that prohibiting smoking in these types of facilities could negatively impact the treatment of people who are stepping down from hard drugs.

The committee also recommended that the ban should not prohibit smoking on County-owned golf courses. The only public course this currently impacts is the Falls Road course in Potomac.

“There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Council member Floreen. “We are stewards of public health. The passage of Bill 33-12 will help us to protect our residents, employees and visitors from dangerous exposure. I applaud my colleagues for standing with me and sending a clear signal that we are a healthy Montgomery.”

Any violation of the law is a class C civil violation. Each day a violation exists is a separate offense.

Another change recommended by the Health and Human Services Committee and included in the approved bill regards several County owned or leased buildings that include private residences. It was decided to “grandfather” existing tenants, but prohibits smoking in those residences that become vacant after the effective date of the bill.

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