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News Summary

Exemption sought for smoking ban

Publication Date: 2008-02-26
  • Publication:Baltimore Examiner, MD

Baltimore County legislators are seeking an exemption for the new state smoking ban for restaurants and bars that have outdoor decks and patios that they temporarily enclose during winter months.

The state health department, the American Cancer Society and the Maryland Lung Association are opposing the exemption in order to support the uniform implementation of the anti-smoking law across the state.

Democratic Del. Sonny Minnick, lead sponsor of the exemption along with a bipartisan dozen county delegates, said the smoking ban, which he strongly opposed, "was bad enough for certain bars and restaurants." But when the health department wrote regulations that "as soon as you drop the flaps, they consider that indoors...I thought that was a ridiculous interpretation of the law," Minnick said.

Minnick will offer amendments that would ban service by waitresses or bartenders in these outdoor areas so that they will not be exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke--a key aim of the anti-smoking law--and also would apply the exemption only from Dec. 1 to April 1.

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