Trade Council panel against smoking bill


The legislative committee of the Anne Arundel Trade Council voted yesterday to oppose an anti-smoking bill being considered by the County Council.

The bill, sponsored by Council woman Diane Evans, R-Arnold, originally was written to ban smoking in public places, but exempt businesses, restaurants, hotels and motels. But Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, whose stricter anti-smoking bill faced certain defeat, introduced an amendment to Ms. Evans' bill at Monday's meeting.

Her amendments would ban smoking in businesses employing more than 50 people and require restaurants seating more than 75 patrons to provide a nonsmoking section. Both amendments were approved.

The AATC, which originally supported Ms. Evans' anti-smoking bill, was expected to oppose the amended version.

"People who are adamantly anti-smoking still cannot support this bill as it's amended," said AATC executive director Jeanette D. Wessel. "This has been a very contentious issue because -- take away what it has to do with. I don't care if it's smoking or what color paper clips you use -- people are just tired of being dictated to by government."

The vote is scheduled for April 5, although Council Chairman David G. Boschert said a public hearing could be scheduled before then.

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