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Posted at 04:24 PM ET, 12/16/2009

Bill would allow no-smoking signs near businesses

A D.C. Council committee approved a bill Wednesday that would allow business owners in the District to post "no smoking" signs within 25 feet of the front door of their property.

But the bill, designed to break up the clusters of smokers who crowd around some doorways, does not include any enforcement provisions or penalties.

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At large), the chairman of the Public Safety and the Judiciary Committee, said the bill gives shop owners more tools to try to curb smoking while stopping short of outlawing smoking on public sidewalks.

He noted some doctors may not want smoke from outside wafting into their offices through the windows.

"If you want the doctor to be able to put the sign up, this is the answer," Mendelson said. "I don't think we can go any farther unless you ban smoking on sidewalks, and we are not prepared to do that."

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), however, mocked the proposal even though she voted for the bill.

"It's a sign, that's all it is," Cheh said. "It strikes me as absurd."

The full council will likely vote on the proposal early next year.

The bill also includes a separate proposal by council member Yvette D. Alexander (D-Ward 6) to ban the sale of so-called "blunt wraps," which can be used to roll marijuana.

Alexander, concerned too many youths are smoking marijuana rolled in blunts, initially had a proposal to ban the single sale of all cheap cigars. But she said Mendelson scrapped that proposal.

He instead put a proposed ban on the sale of the wrappers in the broader anti-smoking bill that was unanimously approved Wednesday.

Alexander vows she will continue fighting for her original proposal.

"I'm not happy," Alexander said after the committee vote. "This is not what I want and I am not satisfied until I get it."

-- Tim Craig

By Anne Bartlett  |  04:24 PM ET, 12/16/2009

Categories:  Tim Craig, Tim Craig

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