Current Howard County Executive James Robey has proposed a law that would ban smoking in public spaces, including restaurants and bars. It's about time. I've lived in Baltimore, San Francisco, and New York and I can say unequivocally that the absence of smoke in SF and NY bars and restaurants is fantastic. Even Ireland, bastion of stereotypical drinking establishments, has banned smoking in its bars. I detest the smoke in Maryland and fully support Robey's initiative. I'd like to see O'Malley or Duncan propose the same for the entire state.
It puzzles me why Merdon, who is running for county Executive, would oppose the ban.
Compared with the 90% of Howard County residents who don't smoke, the restaurant and bar lobby can't possibly tip the balance in favor of Merdon.
Compared with the universally accepted dangers of smoking, the benefits of maintaining the status quo are miniscule.
Why would Merdon give his Democratic opponent, Ken Ulman, a slam dunk campaign issue?
It's because we can't trust Merdon to put health and welfare before a business lobby. Merdon simply cannot cut his ties to business and the liquor board. I wonder if he has ties to the tobacco industry? He is quoted a number of times on Tobacco.org, but mostly in connection with this bill. He has fought against self-service cigarette machines. Whatever the case, Merdon is bucking a national trend towards smoke-free public spaces (Montgomery and Prince George's counties have already passed bans). His vote will put him on the losing side of history and ally him with emphysema, lung cancer, and stinky laundry.