Anti-Tobacco Regulators Overreach in Maryland

Anti-Tobacco Regulators Overreach in Maryland

County Halts "Two Sniffs and You're Out" Law
November 27, 2001

Washington, DC, November 28, 2001 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute today applauded Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Douglas Duncan’s veto of a proposed anti-smoking law.  The law regulated both indoor air quality and odors, potentially penalizing people for smoking in their own homes and apartments.  It authorized the issuance of a citation if there were complaints from as few as two people having “personal knowledge of an air pollution odor.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman described the law’s approach as “two sniffs and you’re out”.  While advocates of the proposal characterized it as a health measure, its penalties would not have required any showing of an actual health threat.  The bill’s coverage of apartment buildings would have been especially troublesome.  If tobacco smoke from one apartment was merely noticeable in the hallway outside, it could trigger legal penalties.

 

“Regulating the minor potential irritations of apartment life is basically the job of the building owner, not the county,” said Kazman.  “Some owners might well choose to operate their buildings as totally smoke-free, others might reserve the right to restrict smoking on a case-by-case basis, and still others might not restrict it all.  Each of those approaches serves a different segment of the public. We don’t need a one-size-fits-all standard imposed by the county.”

 

The Montgomery County Council has a history of advocating extreme anti-smoking restrictions, such as a ban on restaurant smoking that is currently in litigation.  In CEI’s view, these demonstrate a disregard for both property rights and the right of adults to knowingly take risks.  Adults fully understand that smoking can be dangerous, and those who find tobacco smoke offensive can simply avoid establishments that permit smoking.

 

Public Health Expert Available for Analysis:

Professional Background:

Sam Kazman

General Counsel

skazman@cei.org

Mr. Kazman’s work has been featured in: USA Today, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel, & CNN, among many others.

 

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