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Smoking Ban in Montgomery County

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The Washington Post

Thursday, October 9, 2003

The Washington Post Metro

Page One

Smoke Ban Challenge Is Denied By Judge

Measure Takes Effect Today in Montgomery Restaurants and Bars

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A399-2003Oct8.html

By Fredrick Kunkle

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, October 9, 2003; Page B01

A Montgomery County ban on smoking in restaurants and bars takes effect today, forcing bartenders and servers to store their ashtrays, post no-smoking signs and refuse service to patrons who insist on lighting up.

A county Circuit Court judge cleared the way for the law last night, turning aside a challenge by a coalition of restaurant owners.

Circuit Court Judge Patrick L. Woodward declined to issue a preliminary injunction against implementation of the measure while the owners seek to have the ban overturned. Woodward said that though their lawsuit may proceed, they were unlikely to prevail on the merits of their case.

The restaurant owners had argued that the law, which exempts private country clubs and fraternal and veterans organizations, violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

But Woodward, noting that the county employed the exact language of a state smoking law that carved out exemptions for private organizations, said the restaurant owners failed to demonstrate that the County Council had acted arbitrarily or unreasonably. County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), in court when Woodward handed down the decision, praised the ruling and predicted, based on the experience of other states and cities with such bans, that the measure would cause little disruption or economic hardship. He said many restaurants in the county are already smoke-free.

"I think we're going to see some restaurants prosper with this law because family business will increase," Duncan told reporters. He said that the county has worked hard to educate proprietors about the law and would enforce it fairly. "We're certainly not out to harass any restaurants," he said.

By an 8 to 1 vote, the County Council enacted the ban July 1 after a law was invalidated on procedural grounds by the state's highest court.

The Court of Appeals struck down the 1999 measure in May, and the council crafted a new version that it believed would withstand court challenge. The new law, however, does not apply within the city limits of Gaithersburg and Rockville because the measure was passed without a formal change to the county's health regulations.

The county has advised eating and drinking establishments of the law. In a letter sent Aug. 18, the county Department of Health and Human Services warned restaurants and bars to post no-smoking signs on the premises once the law became effective.

To comply with the law, businesses must refuse to seat or serve any patron who violates the ban. The fine for violating the law is $50 for the first offense and $75 for each subsequent office. The Health and Human Services Department also may suspend an establishment's license for up to three days for failure to post no-smoking signs or enforce the ban. Repeat offenders could jeopardize their liquor licenses.

"We're obviously very disappointed," said Melvin Thompson, vice president of government relations for the Restaurant Association of Maryland. He said the organization would review its options before deciding whether to appeal the judge's ruling.

"From an enforcement standpoint, I think this is going to be a nightmare," he said, particularly because it is not clear whether the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg will go along with the county's ban. Others have criticized the County Council for overreaching its authority.

Supporters of the ban were pleased.

"It's not Puritanism," said Eric Gally, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. "Secondhand smoke kills."

Nancy Floreen, (D-At Large), who attended the court hearing, said the ban seems commonplace given the broad shift in public attitudes toward tobacco in recent years.

"Nobody would think twice about permitting smoking on a plane now," she said. "It used to be a way of life, but we have slowly but surely moved in this direction."

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Originally posted by teriaki

yeah, because I've been hurt a lot from 2nd hand drinking.

drunk driving kills more people than you think. dream got sued by a victim of a drunk driver who got drunk there. sometimes being a smartass makes you look dumb.

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Originally posted by vicman

drunk driving kills more people than you think. dream got sued by a victim of a drunk driver who got drunk there. sometimes being a smartass makes you look dumb.

wait a second... you mean people who drive drunk can kill people? Well, that's ok. Because I don't drink and drive. I also don't smoke (hey, stop laughing people! it's only when I'm reducing serotonin).

The point is, when I go out I'd like to have a choice of whether to smoke or not. When I go to a club like Blue Room for instance, I don't have a choice. I smoke what everyone else is smoking because it's in a confined space.

It's all about choices. If I was afraid of getting hit by a drunk driver, I'd take the metro or walk. Drunk driving is a particularly ugly fact of there being alcohol; people get drunk, drive, and hurt people. But all in all, I'd rather take my chances with getting hurt by a drunk driver over being forced to breath someone else's cancer sticks.

Which brings me to my final point: if and when I choose to smoke, that is my choice. No one should have to breathe what I'm smoking and I shouldn't have to breathe their smoke. Even if I'm a smoker I shouldn't be subject to breathing in the smoke of those around me.

There is just no comparison Vic. Hopefully I didn't come off sound like a "smartass" to you.

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Originally posted by vicman

drunk driving kills more people than you think. dream got sued by a victim of a drunk driver who got drunk there. sometimes being a smartass makes you look dumb.

ya, but she was underage and she killed a cop going the wrong way down an off ramp. As it was, I think Dream plead out, plus they offer a lot of shit if you carpool, valet, shuttle, etc. The stupid bitch only got 5 years. Sad fuckin case right there.

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Originally posted by teriaki

wait a second... you mean people who drive drunk can kill people? Well, that's ok. Because I don't drink and drive. I also don't smoke (hey, stop laughing people! it's only when I'm reducing serotonin).

you are now on my 'do not let him bum any smokes EVER' list.

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for the record, as a smoke, i wouldn't mind an indoor smoking ban either. i didn't mind it in cali, and also in nyc. the only problem i see is that most places in dc are a PAIN IN THE ASS to get thru the doormen that i wouldn't want to go out for a smoke only to get denied coming back in.

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Originally posted by teriaki

LOL

"Say 'give me a cigarette' don't ask."

well... yeah. asking me "can i borrow a cig?" or "can i bum one off of you?" is kinda insulting, especially from friends. if yer a friend and wanna glamour-smoke, go ahead and just tell me to give you one. altho if i don't know you, you better be a hot blonde girl or you ain't getting one punk! :D

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Originally posted by vicman

drunk driving kills more people than you think. dream got sued by a victim of a drunk driver who got drunk there. sometimes being a smartass makes you look dumb.

That was because she was underage and stupid.

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Originally posted by teriaki

wait a second... you mean people who drive drunk can kill people? Well, that's ok. Because I don't drink and drive. I also don't smoke (hey, stop laughing people! it's only when I'm reducing serotonin).

The point is, when I go out I'd like to have a choice of whether to smoke or not. When I go to a club like Blue Room for instance, I don't have a choice. I smoke what everyone else is smoking because it's in a confined space.

It's all about choices. If I was afraid of getting hit by a drunk driver, I'd take the metro or walk. Drunk driving is a particularly ugly fact of there being alcohol; people get drunk, drive, and hurt people. But all in all, I'd rather take my chances with getting hurt by a drunk driver over being forced to breath someone else's cancer sticks.

Which brings me to my final point: if and when I choose to smoke, that is my choice. No one should have to breathe what I'm smoking and I shouldn't have to breathe their smoke. Even if I'm a smoker I shouldn't be subject to breathing in the smoke of those around me.

There is just no comparison Vic. Hopefully I didn't come off sound like a "smartass" to you.

Actually, T, your first CHOICE is whether or not you want to go into that bar in the first place. If there were such a demand for smokeless bars then, trust me, they'd be popping up. But they aren't. Bars have a right to offer whatever legal activities they want. This is similar to the fight that we are having right now with the ANCs and such. Montgomery county doesn't have the right to infringe on the revenues of businesses, thus representing a 'taking', simply bc it may or may not effect public health (of which there is sketchy evidence at best).

It MAY be a public safety issue, but we don't trample on the rights of others simply bc there MAY some health benefits or otherwise. There are certainly health benefits to eating better but we don't take away the right of Fatty McGee to stuff himself full of Ben n Jerry's.

Going out and to a particluar bar is where your choice begins, not your rights.

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I don't mind a smoking ban when I go to bars or clubs with convenient designated smoking areas. I've noticed in California, when I go to bars I smoke a LOT less, and I actually like that it helps me cut down on the smoking. The only time a smoking ban would suck is when I'm spinning. I don't know how I'd survive a night having to run outside every ten minutes while spinning.

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i dont smoke, and i'm ok with going to a bar, because that is what people do there. if you do not like to breathe second hand smoke teriaki, then stay home. fact is, there is no demand for smokeless bars.

i can see this being a good measure for restaurants where kids can be present, but adults, who congregate in a bar or club, can freely choose if they want to deal with second hand smoke or not. further, if they were REALLY concerned about smoking and its consequences they could just make it illegal, but the $$ the federal gov. has gotten through the tobacco settlement and the billions that they make off tobacco taxes does not allow them to do it, so even the governemnt has a double standard when it comes to smoking and smoking regulations.

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Originally posted by vicman

i dont smoke, and i'm ok with going to a bar, because that is what people do there. if you do not like to breathe second hand smoke teriaki, then stay home. fact is, there is no demand for smokeless bars.

i can see this being a good measure for restaurants where kids can be present, but adults, who congregate in a bar or club, can freely choose if they want to deal with second hand smoke or not. further, if they were REALLY concerned about smoking and its consequences they could just make it illegal, but the $$ the federal gov. has gotten through the tobacco settlement and the billions that they make off tobacco taxes does not allow them to do it, so even the governemnt has a double standard when it comes to smoking and smoking regulations.

Why won't they just let us die of second hand smoke in peace? What kind of nazi facsist crap is this?

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