Baltimore County Council Votes to Ban Smoking at Parks

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

Smoking in Baltimore County parks may be illegal come spring 2014. (Credit: Woodinville Patch)
Smoking in Baltimore County parks may be illegal come spring 2014. (Credit: Woodinville Patch)

Used to lighting up at Baltimore County parks 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 parks
  • 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

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.

"I don't care if someone's half a mile out on a trail smoking," Mike Pierce of Kingsville told The Baltimore Sun.

Pierce was reportedly 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."


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