Rockville City Councilmember Beryl Feinberg has asked city staff to research the effects of outdoor secondhand smoke, and to explore options to regulate it. Feinberg has not suggested any specific legislation at this time, but said her office has received sufficient complaints from constituents to warrant action.
Feinberg referred to a bill pending before the Montgomery County Council that would crack down on smoking in outdoor dining areas. She said the problem is larger than that at Rockville Town Square. Patrons sitting at chess tables or on benches find that "there are smokers there," Feinberg said at Monday night's council meeting. Concerns have been raised about the effect of outdoor secondhand smoke on children, and those with pulmonary health issues, Feinberg noted.
The topic remains controversial, however, with many restaurant and bar owners concerned that such legislation could send patrons to other jurisdictions. Councilmember Tom Moore expressed some skepticism about the dangers of outdoor secondhand smoke, and said he would like to be presented with the latest research on the issue before the council takes any action.
"No one is less of a fan of tobacco than I am," Moore said. "It’s not absolutely clear to me…that the secondhand effects of smoke when you’re outdoors is sufficient enough to deserve a lot of regulation. I’m happy to be convinced on it, but I haven’t been yet."
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