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Bar, Restaurant Smoking Ban Sought

A group that opposes smoking in public places is asking the Howard County Council to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

Smoke Free Howard County, a coalition of health care groups and some restaurants, plans to ask the council today to expand current law to forbid smoking in the county's 170 bars and restaurants.

Currently, Howard County forbids smoking in restaurants that lack liquor licenses and requires restaurants with liquor licenses to maintain smoke-free areas. Smoke Free Howard County is pushing for a total ban on smoking, similar to measures in Montgomery and Talbot counties, said Glenn E. Schneider, a spokesman for the group.

Ehrlich Faulted on Health Plan Changes

Maryland's Democratic legislative leaders have told Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration that its decision to alter state employee health plans without consulting legislators or employee unions is "unacceptable."

An employees union protested this fall after a state panel approved new health plans that include increased co-payments for state employees and retirees. The change was part of an Ehrlich administration initiative to save money.

In a letter delivered this week to Chip DiPaula, budget secretary for Ehrlich (R), legislative leaders noted that state employees recently received their first salary increase in three years.

"It is not fair to our state employees to promise them a modest salary increase only to take it away by increasing the cost of their health care a few short months later," said the letter, which was signed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and others.

VIRGINIA

Alexandria's Flu Vaccine Expended

The Alexandria Health Department has distributed all of the 2,450 doses of flu vaccine it was allotted. Health officials said the vaccine went to patients in high-risk categories, including the elderly and others with chronic medical conditions and health care workers.

Officials urged those who aren't considered in one of the high-risk categories to avoid spreading germs by using tissues while coughing or sneezing and washing hands frequently with soap and water or, if that's not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

"This year, people who are unable to get vaccinated due to the shortfall in vaccine supply need to consider other measures in keeping healthy," said Charles Konigsberg, Alexandria's health director.

Man Who Died in Reston Fire Identified

The man who died in an apartment fire Sunday night in Reston was identified yesterday as Jeffrey Kerrigan, 53, who lived in the apartment where the fire ignited, Fairfax County fire officials said.

The blaze was reported about 6:50 p.m. in the building at 1432 Northgate Square. Fairfax fire spokesman Dan Schmidt said the fire started in Kerrigan's ground-floor apartment and apparently was caused by a cigarette that was left burning and ignited a sofa.

Other residents, including a 2-year-old girl, jumped to safety or were rescued by firefighters in the two-alarm blaze. Kerrigan's body was discovered after the fire was extinguished.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You often hear about transit-oriented development, but this is development-oriented transit."

-- John D. Thomas, project manager for the New York Avenue Metro station that is scheduled to open Saturday. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Manny Fernandez, Spencer S. Hsu, David Snyder, Miranda S. Spivack, John Wagner, Annie Gowen and Tom Jackman and the Associated Press.


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