The Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s, neighboring counties just to the north of Washington, DC, are have joined forces on a bill that would prohibit smoking on county parkland. The two counties have co-sponsored the proposal, which was introduced before the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis on February 7, as it would require their approval before it could be enacted.
For Montgomery County, the move would further expand their existing smoking ban, which covers a majority of public places including government buildings, work places and a significant number of restaurants, as well as county property such as bus stops, parking garages and outdoor recreation areas.
Del. Benjamin F. Kramer, D-Dist. 19, of Derwood in Montgomery County, led the drafting of the proposal and told Gazette.net that there were three main reasons why the Assembly should support it: that there is “no safe level of exposure” to smoke, that it would help reduce litter and help reduce environmental damage tobacco trash can cause by leaching into the soil and the aquifer.
The bill does allow for the counties to create areas in the park for employee smoking, terms that were added to the bill after its original drafting to help overcome possible objections that park employees who smoke would have no area do so. In addition, it provides the ability for the counties to exclude facilities rented out for events as well as certain areas such as golf courses.
The proposal has already gained the support of the Montgomery County planning board. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly on March 5.