Boschert wants a wider smoking ban Chairman targets all public places

February 17, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Business leaders and tobacco lobbyists may see Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb's anti-smoking bill as an infringement on their rights, but council Chairman David G. Boschert says he doesn't think it goes far enough.

Mr. Boschert, a Crownsville Democrat, said yesterday the council should ban cigarette smoking in all public places.

"I've always said, if you're going to do it, go all the way. Why do it piecemeal?" asked Mr. Boschert, who said that he would rather that the legislation be enacted statewide. "I would like our [smoking bill] to be a model for the state."

But he stopped short of proposing such an amendment to the bill, which is scheduled for a vote tonight.

Mrs. Lamb's measure would limit smoking to designated areas in most public spaces. It would fine violators $50 for the first offense and increase the fine by another $50 for each additional offense.

"If Dave believes that [smoking should be totally banned], it's great," she said. "I'm sure if he introduces an amendment to that effect, he'll have my support."

Mrs. Lamb, an Annapolis Democrat, said she included language that set aside smoking areas to give her bill a better chance to pass.

Councilman Edward Middlebrooks said that with the recently published study on the dangers of secondhand smoke, he, too, would lean toward a total ban on smoking in public places. But he warned that "it would be unfortunate if we amended this bill to death and then end up with nothing.

"I'd like to get this law passed, and then come back and revisit the issue," the Severn Democrat said.

Mr. Boschert also said he was concerned about vague language in the bill. For example, the bill prohibits smoking during a public meeting, but exempts bowling alleys; Mr. Boschert pointed out that some bowling alleys have public meeting rooms and questioned whether they would be covered or exempt.

He also wondered who would be responsible for enforcing smoking restrictions in a shopping mall: the store owner or the mall manager?

"I feel Mrs. Lamb is going in the right direction," Mr. Boschert said. "But I do have a lot of concerns that [these questions] could leave us open for possible court action in the future."

Mr. Middlebrooks said he received many calls from constituents, with the great majority favoring the bill's passage. He said the strength of the sentiment surprised him; before a public hearing on the bill last Wednesday, most of the response on the legislation came from the business community and was negative.

Councilman George F. Bachman, a Linthicum Democrat, said calls to his office were running about 30-to-3 against the bill.

He was leaning toward supporting the bill, but would like to discuss concerns on enforcement, he said.

He also opposed a provision that would exempt from the bill businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

Council votes are also expected on several other bills, including:

* County Executive Robert R. Neall's plan to reorganize county government;

* Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett's measure to regulate rubble landfills;

* A bill that would give the County Council the power to issue subpoenas to appear before it;

* A bill that would require County Council approval before any real property valued at more than $50,000 is sold or declared surplus.

The council will meet in its chambers in the Arundel Center at 7:30 p.m.

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