CITY OF TAKOMA PARK
The Takoma Park City Council this week agreed to consider a ban on smoking in all city restaurants.
During a work session Monday night on a bill that already includes some of the most restrictive anti-smoking proposals in the region, council member Hank Prensky suggested that the council join a handful of communities in the country that have passed bans on smoking in restaurants.
The City Council is scheduled to vote July 23 on an anti-smoking package that contains bans on cigarette vending machines where children have access to them, the free distribution of tobacco products and smoking in offices with more than two employees where at least one worker objects to smoking.
A final vote also is scheduled for that time on a proposal to require restaurants with 25 or more seats to establish separate smoking and non-smoking sections for their patrons.
On Monday night, Prensky pushed for a more restrictive policy on restaurant smoking. He urged the council to drop the provision for smoking and non-smoking sections and to approve a complete ban on restaurant smoking at the July 23 meeting. But some council members said it was too late to insert such a drastic change in the bill.
So, a vote on establishing separate smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants is set to proceed. But Prensky said that after the vote, he will introduce a new bill calling for the ban. The ban then could not come up for a final vote until September, allowing a longer period for public comment.
Takoma Park's anti-smoking bill, when introduced earlier this summer, was initially intended to parallel the anti-smoking regulations recently adopted in Montgomery County. Takoma Park straddles the border of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, which counties have different anti-smoking laws in effect. City officials have said they want uniform smoking regulations in the city.
While Montgomery's anti-smoking laws are among the toughest in the nation, some Takoma Park proposals are even stronger. For example, Montgomery requires anti-smoking sections in restaurants with at least 50 seats, while Takoma Park would require them for restaurants with 25 seats or more.
The City Council is scheduled to vote July 23 on whether to allow city landlords to raise rents next year by a maximum of 5 percent. The city votes annually on a rent ceiling. Last year, council members approved a 4 percent maximum rent hike.
Some landlords this year have requested rent raises of up to 6.5 percent, saying higher trash collection rates are increasing apartment operating costs.