The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed measures yesterday aimed at preventing smoking by young people, but their sponsor backed off from his stated goal of a countywide ban on cigarette vending machines.
Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) won approval from fellow supervisors for proposals to deny minors access to cigarette vending machines, increase the legal age to buy tobacco from 16 to 18, ban tobacco use by students on school property and restrict free distribution of tobacco products.
But Hyland, who said last week he would ask for a countywide ban on cigarette vending machines, didn't present such a proposal for a vote yesterday.
Hyland said he never meant to pledge a ban if it was not necessary. He said the American Lung Association, which issued a statement last week indicating he supported such a move, had taken the action before notifying him.
"The thrust of this has always been aimed at our young people," he said yesterday, adding that he will still seek a ban if the limited measures prove impractical. "I'm willing to go that route if that's what it takes. Let's see if we can limit accessibility instead."
Last night's action drew a prompt response from the American Lung Association, which had approached Hyland to sponsor the proposals.
"We're quite disappointed at the disintegration of this," Kurt Erickson, a spokesman for the group, told the Associated Press. "Obviously, it didn't happen in any way we would have liked."
The board passed the motion on a voice vote that requires the county attorney to decide whether the supervisors can implement the measures on their own or must get permission from the General Assembly.
In other action, supervisors voted 5 to 4 to give $500,000 to the county Economic Development Authority for national advertising meant to attract businesses to Fairfax.
The vote, part of a mid-year budget session, followed an hour-long heated debate in which Chairman Audrey Moore split from her core of fellow Democrats on the board. Supervisors Kate Hanley (D-Providence), Sharon Bulova (D-Annandale), Lilla Richards (D-Dranesville) and Hyland opposed giving the development authority the full $500,000.
Faced with a choice of funding the authority or gypsy moth spraying, the board failed to cut either and instead asked the acting county executive, Richard King, to find money elsewhere in the budget.
Moore has criticized the authority and voted to reduce its funding. She said her action yesterday was not inconsistent with the slow-growth policies that got her elected. "When people start losing their jobs, then it's not a development issue, it's a job issue," Moore said.
The board ended a long day by voting 5 to 1 to approve a 75-year lease between the county and Fairfax Hospital. Under the terms of the lease, Inova Health Systems, which runs the hospital, will pay $10 a year to use county land for its facility on Gallows Road.
Abortion opponents objected to renewing the lease, saying that doing so meant the county was giving official support to abortion.