On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously in favor of an expansion to its smoking ban that will prohibit smoking in the outdoor areas of restaurants and bars.

“Prohibiting smoking in outdoor seating areas provides for a healthier environment for both patrons and employees,” said Council Vice President Sidney Katz in a press release. “I am pleased to have sponsored this bill and to have the support of my Council colleagues on this public health measure.”

The county has had a ban on smoking inside of restaurants or bars since October 2003, and a statement from the council called the passage of Bill 35-18 a way to provide customers who choose to enjoy a meal or drink in an outside seating area with the same level of protection from the health impacts of smoking. The ban applies to both traditional tobacco products as well as e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

Outdoor seating areas associated with golf courses are not impacted by the new law, having been granted an exemption.

The ban is expected to go into effect over the summer, with violators subject to a $50 fine. The county also has a ban on smoking on county-owned or -leased property, including bus stops.

Montgomery County is located to the southeast of Baltimore and is home to an estimated 1,059,000 residents.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.