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Montgomery extends smoking ban to most county property

Montgomery County, which already bars smoking in restaurants and workplaces, extended the ban Tuesday to most county-owned or leased property, including county parks and bus shelters.

The county council voted to expand the prohibition at the urging of council member Nancy Floreen, a breast cancer survivor.

“There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Floreen (D-At Large) in a statement. The bill was co-sponsored by six other council members.

The measure was amended several times before passage. One tweak allows the county’s director of health and human services to designate outdoor smoking areas in certain facilities that treat drug dependency. Officials said they were concerned that a total smoking ban might adversely affect some individuals in rehab.

Another change authorizes the “grandfathering” of tenants who smoke in private residences in county facilities. When those residences become vacant, they will be covered by the ban.

The bill was also amended to permit smoking on county-owned golf courses. At a recent hearing, council member Roger Berliner said that sometimes he and other golfers like to enjoy a good cigar when they’re on the links. Only one course — Falls Road in Potomac — is owned outright by the county and would enjoy the exemption.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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