Carrolltown Center to ban smoking

March 24, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Smoke won't get in the eyes -- or lungs -- of shoppers at Carrolltown Center anymore.

Monday, the Eldersburg shopping mall is imposing a smoking ban in its common areas.

"We did a survey last week and the results overwhelmingly favor a ban," said R. Dixon H. Harvey Jr., owner of the 322,000-square-foot enclosed complex on Liberty Road. "We had few negative comments about a smoking ban."

Monday, A&H Interviews conducted an informal survey of about 40 customers at the 60-store mall. All but three responders said they preferred nonsmoking malls, said Mr. Harvey, a longtime cigar smoker.

"Wonderful news," said Mary Beth Mihm of Eldersburg. The ban may keep customers shopping longer, she said. "Smoke always bothered me, especially when I'm with children," Ms. Mihm said. "This is a nice, convenient mall. But I leave when it gets smoky."

Bob Jones, lunching with his 10-week-old daughter, said the ban should have happened long ago.

"Ventilation blows the smoke around so you can't get away from it," Mr. Jones said. "I have seen a haze rising over the food court from smokers."

Ms. Mihm said she would like the ban extended to all shopping centers and restaurants -- a measure that the Maryland General Assembly is considering.

Mr. Harvey said the policy will not apply to restaurants within the center.

"I had thought about a ban a number of times," he said. "With the pending legislation, I wouldn't have had much choice anyway. The decision is basically being made for us."

Cranberry Mall in Westminster placed ash cans outside the mall and went smoke-free two years ago.

"We had a lot of customers request a ban and have had a lot of positive response since," said Steffany Strand, Cranberry marketing director. "Our customers have said they come here for the cleaner, more pleasant environment."

Smokers at Carrolltown said the ban won't keep them from shopping, but may deter them from lingering.

"We'll be in and out," said Linda Lane, who often stops at the mall's gazebo for a cigarette after buying lunch at one of several Carrolltown food concessions. "We won't lounge around and say that we haven't been in that store yet."

Like Ms. Lane, Brenda Waters often spends her lunch hour at Carrolltown. A smoker, she said she is not concerned with the ban in the common areas.

"If you go shopping, you are too busy to smoke anyway," she said.

Jennifer Weinberg asked for a smoking section.

"I don't like second-hand smoke either, but there should be some area for smokers," she said.

That probably will be outside, Mr. Harvey said.

"We don't have the ventilation in the common areas and installing it would not be cost-feasible," he said.

Mr. Harvey plans to designate areas outside the mall for smokers.

"I don't want to alienate smokers," he said. "Everybody is a customer."

JoAnne Ciepiela, a Carrolltown shop owner and "a nonsmoker who smoked for years," said smoking irritates her.

Customers may be upset at first but will soon appreciate the cleaner, fresher air, she said.

"The ban will be good because it will curtail juvenile smoking," said Ms. Ciepiela, owner of B J.'s Bloomer shop, near the food concessions.

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