Following all of the recent smoking bans we’ve reported, one can say without exaggeration that the smokers’ world is shrinking. First, smoking was banned in public outdoor spaces; then in public indoor spaces and workplaces. Parks, recreational areas, and stadiums followed, but that isn’t the end to the legal push for a smoke-free environment.
Eventually, even patios Texans tried to keep as smoking friendly places, were forced to accept the new mandate. While outdoor dining areas and sidewalk tables are considered to be public outdoor spaces, some restaurants and bars still offer shelter for smokers to light up.
Dining and Smoking? I Don’t Think So!
This is the case with Rockville, Maryland. The city’s restaurants and bars still offer their outdoor areas to smokers. However, the legal issue of smoking is on the docket for the City Council, which is expected to pass a smoking and vaping ban regarding these outdoor dining areas.
In Montgomery County, where Rockville is located, smoking in food and drink establishments has been prohibited since 2003. The Montgomery County law prohibiting smoking in all sections of eating and drinking establishments became effective on October 9, 2003. However, these little areas, such as outdoor tables are not fully indoor and not fully outdoor; they remained smoke friendly as spaces in between. Hence they evaded the laws and remained open for smokers and vapers. Until today.
What Rockville legislators want to accentuate is that both indoor and outdoor secondhand smoke exposure are equally dangerous.
Citizens Petitioning the Legal Issue
However, the opinions of locals are quite divided. Even though not a smoker, the county’s court judge, Terrence J. McGann, sarcastically stated: “I guess you can still smoke in this county, if you dig a bunker a couple hundred feet below the surface and nobody’s around and you make sure it’s enclosed.”
The owners of Sam’s Hookah Bar & Cafe in Rockville, who have been running their family business for almost two decades, started a petition opposing the ordinance. Marvin Motaghi, its owner, expressed his concerns urging lawmakers to realize that “We’re not a franchise where we can grab money from one store and put it into another.” As Mothagi owns only this bar, which has become a popular attraction to the city, he fears that he will have no other income once this ban comes into effect.
Which side you you stand on and would you sign Motaghi’s petition?