Showing posts with label smoking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smoking. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rockville outdoor smoking ban passed by Mayor and Council

Rockville's Mayor and Council passed a new ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas last night in a 4-1 vote. The vote came after an emotional appeal by the leading advocate for the ban, resident Adam Zimmerman, during the Community Forum portion of the meeting.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he fears an outcome such as residents living adjacent to Montgomery College experienced, when that campus went smoke-free. Smokers who couldn't light up on college property migrated into the residential community behind the college to puff away instead.

Pierzchala predicted smokers banished from Rockville Town Square dining spaces will likely move in front of other businesses and properties downtown, calling these "unintended consequences" of the ban.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mayor and Council could pass outdoor dining smoking ban Monday

Smoking in outdoor dining areas could be banned in the City of Rockville as soon as Monday night. The Mayor and Council are scheduled to discuss the ordinance, but could waive a layover and cast their final vote, as well.

Of the public feedback on the proposal received by the city, 22 of 24 written comments supported the ban. However, one of the two negative submissions is a petition opposing the ban, signed by 189 people who oppose it. City staff has been unable to confirm how many of the 189 are Rockville residents, but then again, not everyone dining in Rockville is necessarily a Rockville resident.

Residents, businesses and patrons of Rockville establishments will have the opportunity to address the Mayor and Council on this issue during Community Forum, which is earlier in the meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM this Monday, May 22, 2017, following an executive session that is closed to the public.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rockville Town Square business owners push back against outdoor smoking ban

While several residents spoke in favor of a proposed ban on smoking in all outdoor dining areas in Rockville last night, business owners in Rockville Town Square told the Mayor and Council the ban would hurt their restaurants. "Are you trying to slow-poison business?" Mellow Mushroom owner Danny Trahan asked them.

"I'm running a business, how am I supposed to sell?" Trahan asked. "Why are you coming to us, and singling us out?" He noted that the City has yet to resolve the parking problems that business owners already blame for reduced profits, and the barrage of new taxes in the county. "Did I make a mistake in coming to Montgomery County?" Trahan asked pointedly. "I feel like I did."

Sonali Seth, who said she owns an Indian restaurant in town center, said she would be in "full support" of the ban if it applied across all of Montgomery County and the region. As it is, she predicted, Rockville businesses will suffer, as smokers go to other nearby establishments where outdoor smoking remains legal. "All the businesses will be hurt," she said. "It's going to hurt us, and we will close down."

The chef-owner of Spice Xing, one of the few businesses to have long-term success on Gibbs Street, said he recently quit smoking himself, and therefore saw the value of the effort. But he suggested the Mayor and Council could make a stronger health impact by spending money on helping residents to stop smoking altogether. 

Adam Zimmerman, a leading advocate for the ban, said that if smoking laws remain unchanged, 92000 Maryland children will die prematurely from smoking. Business owner and resident Joe Applebaum said that as a businessman in the health field, he thought the ban would be "phenomenal." He said allowing the 8% of people who smoke to impose health risks on the other 92% is "ridiculous."

Two other residents cited recent unpleasant experiences dining at Rockville Town Square as reasons they support the ban. Julie Mankowski of King Farm said she had just dined near the windows at Bar Louie before last night's meeting. Four people smoking outside sent smoke drifting through the windows into the restaurant where she was sitting, she said.

Likewise, a West End resident recalled her trip to Finnegan's Wake on St. Patrick's Day. "There was so much smoking" outdoors, she said, that she wound up leaving earlier than she had planned. "I just don't want to be here anymore. I just could not get away from smoke," she said.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said the record for public comment on the proposed ban will remain open until April 7, 2017. Last night's hearing failed to provide the entertainment value of the hearing held years ago to decide on the original indoor smoking ban. That evening included testimony from Hooters girls, and the legendary "Nobody forces me to go to the Apollo" speech.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mayor and Council to discuss outdoor dining smoking/vaping ban for Rockville restaurants tonight

A potential ban on smoking and vaping in outdoor dining areas in the City of Rockville will be a topic of discussion at tonight's Mayor & Council meeting, at 7:00 PM at City Hall. Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr has submitted a sample ban for discussion purposes only.

Montgomery County currently does not have a similar ban on property it doesn't own, which some restaurant and property owners have said would put them at a disadvantage in Rockville, should outdoor smoking be prohibited in the city. City staff recommends holding a public hearing to get input on the topic, and has provided the ban passed by La Plata in 2006 for review by the Mayor & Council.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rockville Mayor and Council want more comprehensive proposal on outdoor smoking before voting

Banning smoking in outdoor areas in Rockville was discussed at last night's Mayor and Council meeting, but ultimately city leaders decided they want the final measure to be more uniform and comprehensive.

Councilmember Beryl Feinberg initiated the discussion by asking whether the measure should extend to off-leash dog parks, vaping or e-cigarettes, and asked for more detail on how much signage would cost for the city.

There was also a sense that the city should do more than just regulate smoking in and near parks and playgrounds, or just in Rockville Town Square.

When the topic of whether or not the ban could or would apply to RedGate Golf Course was raised, Assistant City Manager Jenny Kimball noted that Montgomery County has not banned smoking at its golf courses. Councilmember Tom Moore felt Rockville should take a bolder approach.

"Just the fact that Montgomery County hasn't banned smoking at golf courses does not speak to the health or safety of it," Moore argued. "This is a product that kills people." With a broader measure, Moore said, "Rockville could have a leadership role on this issue."

Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr asked city staff if Rockville's contract with RedGate's management, Billy Casper Golf, would have to be renegotiated. Timothy Chesnutt, Director of Recreation and Parks, suggested such a negotiation would "have to wait until the next lease." Moore strongly disagreed with that, saying that municipal rules can and do change all the time, and that the city would be under no obligation to negotiate with Billy Casper before implementation of any smoking ban.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said she also would favor a ban at RedGate, and a citywide ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas, rather than one just in part of the Town Center. Federal Realty, which developed and owns Rockville Town Square, objected to the proposed ban, saying that its restaurant and bar tenants would be at a disadvantage. Other restaurants a few blocks away would have been exempt, and there would be confusion over boundaries and enforcement, the developer argued.

Moore pointed to the experience of Bowie, where the municipality reported no negative impact on restaurants from a similar smoking ban. Palakovich Carr also said she would support a citywide smoking ban in outdoor dining areas.

While there is a clear majority and consensus among the Mayor and Council for taking a bolder approach, Newton suggested holding a public hearing on a final draft ordinance before taking a vote. "To be inclusive, we need to bring the public in," she said, as well as the businesses that would be affected by the change.

Staff was instructed to draft an ordinance that would ban smoking in outdoor dining areas citywide, in all city parks, and on the outdoor plaza at Rockville Town Square. Comments regarding enforcement should be solicited from the police chief, and the cost of signage should be tabulated, as well, before this is brought back for further discussion, the Mayor and Council agreed.

Friday, January 31, 2014


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."

Do you think Rockville should restrict outdoor smoking in Rockville Town Square and other public gathering areas? Take the poll on the right side of the screen (desktop version) or comment below.