Howard Co. in a haze over smoking booth Officials reconsider wisdom of hut for smokers

September 30, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Howard County government, known for having one of the toughest anti-smoking laws on the East Coast, built a penalty box of sorts for its employees yesterday: a glass booth where smokers could gather for an indoors puff in the great outdoors.

Then the county suddenly decided to take it down, as officials realized their thinking on this smoking box thing might have been a bit hazy.

"We need to think it through a little bit more clearly," said county spokeswoman Vicki Cox, who wasn't aware the booth was being built until it was half-completed yesterday. "Things moved a little more quickly than we'd planned."

No one in county government took credit yesterday for the idea of building the structure, which resembles a bus stop in size and shape and costs an estimated $3,000.

The idea was supported by Beverly M. Wilhide, an assistant to County Executive Charles I. Ecker, as a way to address complaints about smoke near public entryways and small fires caused by discarded cigarettes. But Wilhide said it was Public Works Director James M. Irvin who offered to build a smoking booth as a solution.

Irvin said it wasn't his idea, but it might have been suggested by someone else in his department.

"We are responsible for putting it up, or in this case not putting it up right now," Irvin said. The structure was being completed yesterday when officials decided it should come down, perhaps as early as today.

One group that is definitely not taking credit for the structure is the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Howard County.

The coalition of anti-smoking activists is interested in seeing no smoking at all outside the George Howard government building complex. The group met briefly with Ecker this month to request he declare the outdoor areas smoke-free, just as the indoorareas are smoke-free by county law.

Pub Date: 9/30/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.