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Baltimore County Council Votes to Ban Smoking at Parks

A bill that passed unanimously Tuesday restricts smoking at playgrounds and other county-owned areas.

Smoking in Baltimore County tot lots, playgrounds and athletic fields may be illegal come spring 2014. (Credit: Woodinville Patch)
Smoking in Baltimore County tot lots, playgrounds and athletic fields may be illegal come spring 2014. (Credit: Woodinville Patch)

Used to lighting up at Baltimore County playgrounds and athletic fields? You have until the spring to kick the habit or face a fine.

Members of the Baltimore County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in support of legislation banning smoking at various county-owned spaces.

Council members Vicki Almond, Cathy BevinsDavid Marks and Tom Quirk sponsored the bill, which would prohibit citizens from smoking at county-owned parks and playgrounds.

Baltimore County's parks and recreation facilities "exist for the very purpose of fostering good health..." the bill stated, "and therefore those who frequent such spaces ought not to be subjected to the exposure and dangers of unnecessary and harmful air contaminants and carcinogens such as secondhand smoke."

Smoking will be banned in the following places, according to the legislation:
  • County playgrounds and tot lots
  • Dog parks
  • Athletic fields at games or events sponsored by the county or local recreation council
  • Within 30 feet of parks and recreation buildings

Smoking is allowed everywhere else, including on trails, Marks said.

Violators will reportedly face a $50 fine.

The bill passed, 6-0—councilman John Olszewski Sr. of Dundalk missed the meeting because he was sick, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Some thought the bill didn't go far enough.

Mike Pierce of Kingsville told The Baltimore Sun he was concerned about events not included in the bill, such as festivals, like those put on by the Cromwell Valley Park Council, of which he is a member.

After its passage Tuesday night in the council, the bill must be signed by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, then it becomes law 45 days later.

Marks told WBAL TV that once the bill takes effect, people may report violations to a supervisor but "our intent here was to really push for self-enforcement, self-regulation."

Mike Pierce February 19, 2014 at 06:31 PM
I wish you would report on this correctly. The bill does not "ban smoking in parks". It only applies to limited places: tot lots, dog parks, athletic fields, etc. The Cromwell Valley Park Rec Council asked that the bill be modified to apply at public events at that park, and a rep from another park asked that it be amended to apply to the pavilions in their park. The County Council ignored both requests which came from citizen vounteer groups. Pretty much says what they think of volunteers.
Elizabeth Janney (Editor) February 19, 2014 at 08:01 PM
Hi Mike, Thanks for the feedback and for clarifying. Did the council respond to your request in any way?
Reader February 19, 2014 at 09:42 PM
Another easy form a pandering to the crowd by the county council. Smokers are inhuman sots who should be banned from mother earth, but don't forget to keep forking over the cigarette tax money that the government loves soooo much. Oh, and don't forget it's for the children. What a load.
Mike Pierce February 19, 2014 at 11:16 PM
No, Elizabeth, they did not respond or act in any way to the request from our Rec Coucil. And they also ignored the request from another Rec Council to provide better protection for visitors. Sad.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2014 at 07:24 AM
My instinct tells me that it's probably good for everyone if no one smokes in the park...cigarette butts and filth associated tend to mound up rapidly. Not sure that we need new law to accomplish the goal though...
Buck Harmon February 20, 2014 at 07:32 AM
I almost feel that the constant creation of new law is an ongoing admission of the failures of current, existing and past law...a vicious cycle that avoids addressing or seeking real solutions. It's not the business of government to manage the lives of human beings. There are more effective ways to improve conditions for human beings than the constant creation of new laws of restraint.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2014 at 07:34 AM
It means breaking out of the political mold at times I suppose..
trash man February 20, 2014 at 08:08 AM
More laws, the constant flow of more laws allowing them to go and say, "look what I did!!! I did something for you." This is more unenforceable garbage among the litany of unenforceable rules and regulations. I'm sure the council is patting themselves on the back for a job well done - but I find it intolerable when a government official picks and chooses what they deem from their high chairs what is acceptable and what is not. Now, can we ban men in short shorts and women in spandex from the parks?
Reader February 20, 2014 at 09:26 AM
trash man, I fully agree, lets get rid of the eye pollution.
M. Sullivan February 20, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Idiots creating more useless, self aggrandizing legislation. How about banning offensive and asthma inducing perfumes and colognes too ?
RustysChaos February 23, 2014 at 10:25 PM
I quit smoking in 1986. I visit or hike through Cromwell Valley Park often and am a member of the Park Council. With all information available today on smoking, if someone chooses to smoke it is their problem and issue. Why don't we just have a questionnarre on correct political views, health issues and related PC subjects prior to entering the park? For that matter why not credit checks, DNA screens and stool samples? It is open space we all pay for. Smoker or not, enjoy the park. Maybe the fresh air will inspire them to quit.

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