Towson Town Center is going to turn its smoking urns into flower pots, a magical move to make the smoke disappear from the popular mall. The center will ban smoking in all public areas, including the food court, beginning May 17.
Christopher Schardt, the center's general manager, cited the hazards of secondary smoke to the mall's clientele as the reason for the ban.
"Shopping centers must begin to take responsibility to provide the cleanest environment possible. I believe we're the first mall in Baltimore County or Baltimore City to do this."
Towson Town Center is not the first area mall to ban smoking in its public areas. A county ordinance has made it illegal to smoke in any enclosed mall in Howard County since last June.
Erin Joy, one of the few smokers visible at Towson Town Center yesterday, said, "I'm not surprised. I guess I'm going to have to quit."
An employee of a tobacco shop in the mall, who asked not to be identified, said, "It's inevitable."
Mary Conge, a waitress at the Garden Cafe and a nonsmoker, said the ban was a "great idea." Jim Malamatis, part owner of the cafe, said, "Not many of our customers smoke any more. It's a decreasing thing."
As part of its nonsmoking stance, the center is co-sponsoring a smoking cessation program with the American Cancer Society. The society will offer free day and night programs at the mall from April 26 through May 14. Representatives will be at the customer service center on the mall's second level until April 26 to register smokers.
On May 17, the center will distribute information on smoking's effect on health, stickers for quitters, and 5,000 packs of gum to help smokers quit the habit.
Towson Town Center includes 180 specialty stores, plus the Hecht's and Nordstroms department stores.