In 4-1 Vote, Rockville Bans Smoking, Vaping in Outdoor Serving Areas

Rockville Mayor and Council | City of Rockville

Rockville has become the second city in Maryland to ban smoking and vaping in outdoor seating areas of restaurants, after action by the city’s Mayor and Council on Monday.

The vote was 4-1, with Councilmember Mark Pierzchala the sole vote against. “It was a tough choice for me,” Pierzchala said Tuesday.

“First I don’t think we need to be solving every problem with the government, and I’m not sure how much of a problem there was,” he said. “I’m worried about unintended consequences and those smokers are going to go somewhere.”

Patrons of the city’s bars and restaurants will no longer be able to smoke in outdoor serving areas inside the city.

Under the ordinance, owners, managers or employees of restaurants and bars cannot knowingly allow smoking or vaping on patios, decks, porches or at other outdoor seating or serving areas. Also, according to the ordinance, owners, managers and employees must:

  • Refuse to wait upon, serve, seat or accommodate any person who is smoking or vaping where smoking and vaping are prohibited in an outdoor serving area;
  • Request that the person smoking or vaping cease that activity; and
  • Request the person to leave the building or area if the person continues to smoke or vape in an outdoor serving area after the person has been asked to refrain.

Enforcement of the smoking/vaping ban will be conducted by Rockville police. Specific fines for violating the ban will be set at a future Mayor and Council meeting. Currently, the fine is $1,000 per violation, which is the maximum allowed by State law.

Food service facilities will be required to post conspicuous signs announcing the vaping/smoking prohibition.

In October 2015, the Mayor and Council voted unanimously to follow Montgomery County code, allowing a countywide ban on smoking and vaping to apply to city property, including city parks, community centers, Redgate Golf Course and all city facilities.

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, 392 municipalities in the U.S. prevent smoking in the outdoor serving areas of restaurants; 233 of those also have smoke-free outdoor bar-patio laws. With passage of the ordinance, Rockville and La Plata become the only jurisdictions in Maryland to have banned smoking and vaping in serving areas outdoors.

Here’s the material from Monday’s meeting on the outdoor vaping ban:

Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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