Town reverses sweeping ban on smoking

Court rulings barred ordinance enforcement

March 14, 2001|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

A small enclave of Montgomery County is giving up its internationally famous quest to make even its streets smoke-free.

Three months after Friendship Heights became the first community in the country to outlaw smoking almost everywhere outdoors, prompting a court battle, its seven-member village council voted unanimously Monday to snuff out the ban.

The decision followed two Circuit Court rulings that had temporarily barred enforcement of the ordinance prohibiting smoking on public property - from the community center to parks, streets and sidewalks - in the condominium community of 5,000 people on the outskirts of Washington.

This month, a judge issued a preliminary injunction, extending a temporary limit set by another judge, saying Friendship Heights had overstepped its authority as a special taxing district in passing such a sweeping statute.

"It would take a fair amount of time, a fair amount of money, to keep on," said Mayor Alfred Muller, a physician who championed the outdoor smoking ban.

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