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January 17, 2007

ISSUE:

Seeking to build momentum for a statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold proposed last week prohibiting smoking at county establishments as a way of promoting public health and boosting the local economy.

An initial violation would carry a fine of $500 for the establishment; a second offense would result in a $1,000 fine. Smokers also could be penalized. Such a ban would apply throughout Anne Arundel County, including Annapolis, but the regulations would not apply to private clubs.

Leopold, a melanoma survivor, acknowledged that the timing of his announcement - on the opening day of the General Assembly session - was aimed at encouraging legislators to pass a statewide ban.

Montgomery, Prince George's, Talbot, Charles and Howard counties have enacted such bans, and Baltimore officials have been considering such a move.

The chairman of the Anne Arundel County Council said he does not plan to introduce Leopold's measure, which would be required for it to be considered, until after Maryland lawmakers take up the issue statewide.

YOUR VIEW:

Should Anne Arundel County, or the state, ban smoking in bars and restaurants?

Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by tomorrow. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published Sunday.

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