The Montgomery County Council extended a county-wide smoking ban July 13 to include common areas of apartment buildings and some outdoor spaces such as playgrounds.
By unanimous vote, council members banned smoking in common areas of apartment buildings, including hallways, lobbies, and laundry rooms. They also extended the ban to cover the playgrounds in apartment complexes and housing subdivisions.
Eight years ago, Montgomery County was the first jurisdiction in the region to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.
Councilman Phil Andrews led the push for that move at the time. "The rationale for that law is the same for this one," he says. "Which is not to protect smokers from themselves, but to protect non-smokers from involuntary exposure to dangerous secondhand tobacco smoke."
The only hint of resistance to the bill came from councilman Craig Rice. He voted for the overall measure, but did not support the private playground ban, saying that trying to ban smoking in outdoor areas will be difficult to enforce.
"Folks who do smoke have rights, and I'm not sure if this is exactly where we want to go," he says.
The new ban goes into effect August 12.