Montgomery County Council has enacted legislation that will outlaw smoking at all areas of a restaurant or bar – indoors or outdoors — in the County.
Yesterday, the Council unanimously enacted Bill 35-18, Health and Sanitation - Smoking- Outdoor Serving Areas, and a companion County Board of Health regulation that prohibit smoking in certain outdoor seating areas where food is served such as patios, decks or porches. The goal of this bill is to protect residents from the health impacts of smoking.
Council Vice President Sidney Katz is the lead sponsor of Bill 35-18, which was introduced in October. Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Craig Rice and former Councilmember Marc Elrich, who is now County Executive, are cosponsors.
“Prohibiting smoking in outdoor seating areas provides for a healthier environment for both patrons and employees,” said Katz. “I am pleased to have sponsored this bill and to have the support of my Council colleagues on this public health measure.”
Smoking inside of restaurants or bars located in the County has been prohibited since Oct. 2003. Bill 35-18 provides customers, who choose to enjoy a meal or drink in an outside seating area, with the same level of protection from the health impacts of smoking.
Restaurants and bars in the County that allow diners to smoke while eating in outside serving areas will no longer be able to continue this practice. The ban also applies to the use of e-cigarettes and “vaping” in these outdoor serving areas.
Under the law, business establishments may designate rooftop and balcony areas for outdoor smoking at their discretion. Outdoor seating areas associated with golf courses are not impacted by the new law.
“I thank each of the many stakeholders who took the time to weigh in throughout the process,” said Katz. “This legislation represents the collaboration between my colleagues that I was able to facilitate to see that this bill reflects the needs of our residents and business owners in our community.”
Bill 35-18 expands County efforts that are already in place to curtail the impacts of smoking with existing prohibitions on smoking in restaurants, auditoriums, concert and lecture halls, as well as on County-owned or -leased property including bus stops.
The new law is expected to take effect this summer and enforcement will be complaint based. A violation is subject to a $50 fine.
Both Rockville and Gaithersburg have already enacted similar outdoor seating smoking bans. More than 300 counties or municipalities and Hawaii, Maine, Michigan and Washington also have smoke-free outdoor dining and bar patio laws.