MARYLAND

Montgomery County enforces new smoking regulations

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Starting this week, Montgomery County will begin enforcing additional rules on where you can smoke. County-owned or leased properties are off-limits, but that still didn't stop some people from lighting up Tuesday.

Photo: Haprog via Flickr

Sitting outside the Montgomery County courthouse, Toreshia Dorsey took a smoke break only to find out that smoking is no longer allowed on county property.

“It’s crazy, ridiculous, and I’m a smoker,” says Dorsey.

She wasn't alone. One after another people were found doing the same thing.

“People are stressed out from being in court, they're stressed out from being in the courthouse alone,” Anteionette Benjamin says.

But in February, council members unanimously passed a bill expanding the smoking ban to places like outside the courthouse and county bus shelters.

“It's basically because it's secondhand smoke and everybody knows how unpleasant it can be,” says Patrick Lacefield, Montgomery County spokesperson.

For non-smokers like Robert Thomas, the rules are literally a breath of fresh air.

“When you get out of the car and stand in the street you will no longer have to inhale the fumes from the cigarettes,” he says.

The county says it will rely greatly on the public to help enforce a smoke-free environment.

“There’s no intent here to get anybody here in trouble,” Lacefield says.

Repeat offenders can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services.

For those who choose to smoke, they say it's another right being taken away.

“I’m outside, therefore I should be able to smoke. That's why we have air,” Dorsey says.

The ban does not apply to county golf courses and public sidewalks, and as a reminder of the new smoke-free zones, signs will be going up soon.

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