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Senate passes bill to ban smoking on school grounds at all times

The Maryland Senate on Friday passed legislation that would allow a county board of education to prohibit smoking on public school property.

The Senate voted 32-8 to pass Senate Bill 288, which would allow the counties to ban smoking any device or substance that contains tobacco at all times. The bill would make the punishment for a first offense a warning. Any offense after that would result in a civil penalty of $50.

Eight Republicans voted against the bill. But Anne Arundel County Republican Sens. Ed Reilly, R-Crofton, and Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, voted in favor of the measure.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, voted for the measure as well. Sens. Ed DeGrange, D-Glen Burnie, and Jim Rosapepe, D-College Park, were excused from the vote.

Under current law, the sale or use of tobacco is prohibited on school grounds during the school day and inside school buildings at all times, according to the Department of Legislative Services. But state law does not specifically prohibit smoking on public school property.

The bill now heads to the House, which must approve of it before it can head to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk. If it is passed and signed by O'Malley, it would take effect Oct. 1.

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