The Montgomery County Council this morning unanimously approved a smoking ban for most county-owned property, including county parks and bus stops.

After Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park introduced the bill in November, the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee made a few amendments, including an expansion of the ban to bus stops and bus shelters. The ban may not apply to county rehab facilities, based on the judgement of the county’s Health and Human Services director.

It also won’t apply on the county’s Falls Road golf course in Potomac or in county-owned or leased buildings that already include private residents.

But it will apply to parks, around recreation centers and outside county buildings. Smoking is already banned inside county buildings and notably, Montgomery was the first county in the state to ban smoking in bars.

Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, said that culture means the ban likely won’t require much enforcement.

“We think that the culture is changing for the better,” Leventhal said. “We anticipate it will just become improper to smoke at bus stops and bus shelters.”

Those who are cited will be hit with a class C civil violation, which means a fine. Each day the violation exists will be treated as a separate offense.

“There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” Floreen said in a statement.

She said her own experience with breast cancer motivated her to propose the bill, citing smoking’s connection to cancer.

“We are stewards of public health. The passage of Bill 33-12 will help us to protect our residents, employees and visitors from dangerous exposure,” Floreen said. “I applaud my colleagues for standing with me and sending a clear signal that we are a healthy Montgomery.”

Flickr photo by MoneyBlogNewz