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Smokers Beware: Council Poised to Accept Ban

The city council expressed support for banning smoking from the Roosevelt Center mall, although a designated smoking area still needs to be hashed out.

The Greenbelt City Council appears poised to support recommendations that may all but douse one’s ability to smoke in the Roosevelt Center mall area.

Since May, three groups — the Community Relations Advisory Board (CRAB), the Park and Recreation Advisory Board and the Youth Advisory Committee — have all produced reports to council in support of eliminating smoking from the center.

CRAB struck the most tolerant position, recommending a ban that would only encompass the immediate mall area — described as “the rectangular area where the benches and tables are located.” Its prohibition would not prevent smokers from lighting up along Centerway's sidewalks and those leading to and from the mall’s parking lots.

All three reports do support designating one nearby area for smokers, an issue the city council grappled with during a work session Wednesday night at the Greenbelt Community Center.

The reports suggest different areas, including on the small grassy area across from Dominoes Pizza, down by the underpass opening up to the mall area and at the “picnic table area behind the Mobile station.”

The council seemed mixed over these locations. “I think we ought to talk to the merchants (first),” said council member Edward Putens. Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan agreed. A merchants association meeting is schedule for Aug. 22.

For her part, council member Silke Pope indicated that two designated smoking areas, rather than one, might be more reasonable to employees who’d have to otherwise march a greater distance to smoke.

The other hang-up during the work session concerned whether the council can prevent private restaurants, such as the New Deal Café, from allowing patrons to smoke outside. State legislation dating back to 2007 precludes bars and restaurants from smoking indoors, not outside their premises.

“It seems to me that where you are serving food, smoking should not be allowed,” said council member Leta Mach, referring to the small patio area outside the New Deal Café.

According to council member Rodney Roberts, the city park area comes to “within three feet” of the mall’s businesses, posing a possible three-foot gap of grey area between the would-be ban and business owners who might like to see smoking continue.

Note: Mayor Judith "J" Davis was not present at the work session.

Jake August 05, 2011 at 08:08 AM
The reach of government into the personal lives of Americans is truly dangerous. This is the end of Freedom, this is the end of the pursuit of happiness. Welcome the new order of Fascism.
Tina Rhea August 13, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Jake, if your pursuit of happiness conflicts with my right to breathe clean air, I'd say my pursuit of happiness trumps yours.
JohnE September 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM
We've been told for years secondhand smoke is deadly dangerous but we are here alive and there are no deaths from it, not even close. It's an exaggerated, created science all its own. It's propaganda - fallacies created to have justifications for a new round of tobacco prohibition. I am for freedom, freedom for all people to have their own place in this world, including the smokers! Tobacco smoke maybe an irritant to some, but that's about it. Its chemical makeup has been so exaggerated by tobacco control pundits, it's insanity. Only 6 percent of tobacco smoke constitutes those 7,000 theorized and identified components of the smoke. Theorized is the word, since the claimed chemicals are themselves so small they can barely be detected. Nanograms, femtograms are the sizes of what can be detected so they theorize the rest. Four percent is carbon monoxide, while nearly 90 percent constitutes ordinary atmospheric air! These figures come from the surgeon general's report in 1989.
JohnE September 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Oh the pundits may bring up benzene in tobacco smoke. The average cigarette produces roughly 300 micrograms of benzene (1986 report of the surgeon general. p.130) 0.3 micrograms - 300 nanograms. Benzene is normally found in fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, beverages and eggs. The National Cancer Institute estimates that an individual may safely ingest up to 250 micrograms in their food per day, every single day of the year. Thus, the "safe" exposure to benzene from one day of a normal diet is roughly equal to the exposure experienced by a nonsmoker sharing an airspace with smokers for over 750 hours. It's a political movement and it was never about health.

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