BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s no smoking indoors at Maryland bars and restaurants, but now one county is taking it a step further by banning smoking outdoors in public parks.

Kai Jackson reports other counties could quickly follow.

Howard County leaders say they’ve been leading the way educationally and economically.  This new smoking ban is a push to do the same in the area of health.

Lighting up could lighten up your wallet if you’re caught smoking in a Howard County park.  Starting Wednesday, the county executive is banning smoking in all county parks.

“As we’ve been pushing our Healthy Howard initiative to encourage people to be active and go out to the parks, it would be inconsistent with that message if we didn’t ban smoking,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilenson.

Fifty-seven parks are affected.  Those caught will be asked to stop.  A second offense and you’re asked to leave.  A third offense and you could face a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.

Those we spoke with have mixed reaction.

“I don’t think it’s right because we all have our rights,” said Alease Leak.

“I think in a park setting, there’s a lot more kids and that’s why I think it’s more important to ban it at a park than at a bar,” said Nimita Sheth, supports ban.

“I have sympathy, but they’ve got plenty of other options,” said Dave Friedman.

Howard leads Maryland and the nation in education and economic prosperity.  County leaders say they’d like to be just as successful in the health arena, although critics charge government can’t legislate behavior.

“We agree that it’s a legal activity.  That doesn’t mean it should necessarily be permitted on public property,” said Beilenson.

The ban will go into effect once County Executive Ken Ulman signs it.

Comments (44)
  1. CoreF says:

    Land of the free, baby!

  2. PAUL E. MICELLI says:

    You should worry about all the “CLEAN” air you breath every second!! How about all the “MICROWAVE” beams from transmission towers?? How about a polluted Bay?? Radiation from Nuclear “ACCIDENTS”. Smokers polluting the air, come on now let’s get real. Electd Officials should worry about more IMPORTANT issues other than smoking in the park!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Cigarman says:

    Watch-Next year it will be open space and then your own property. Soon we will be required to wear uniforms. Home of the free is right CoreF!!!

  4. OMG!!! says:

    Ridunculous!!!! Why don’t they ban smoking all together and make it illegal like drugs? That way we can waste even more money regulating all the people smoking outside. Get real idiots, if I lived in this county, this crackhead would not get my vote and I DON”T smoke!

    1. Kay says:

      Make it illegal like drugs???? How about the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS that are here getting the same rights as real Americans!!! the word “ILLEGAL” doesn’t mean S**T anymore. So SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM!!!!!

    2. SmokingStinks says:

      Smoker’s stink, their clothes stink and they have no courtesy for the non-smokers. I am tired of walking through them outside of my work place’s door when I am going to my car. I then have to inhale their stinking smoke into my lungs. There should be a mandatory law that there should be no smoking within 500 feet of a public buildings. Is it fair that I have to smell their stench and inhale cancer! All that a smoker cares about is a cigarette and then the next one…it is such a shame. I hope that one day smoking will be illegal for it causes nothing but pain and suffering to non-smokers but it does make the doctors rich so that is why it is not illegal yet. I wish they would ban smoking outside everywhere and let the smokers stink up their homes instead. Oh yeah, smokers also litter the world when they throw their cigarettes out the window of their moving car which is so rude!!! Why don’t they throw their cigarette buts on their own lawn or in the ash tray in their car since they love them so much! Obviously you can tell I am a hater of smokers. Ugh!!!

  5. LaDasha says:

    The smoking lamp is lit.

  6. Fed Up says:

    These idiots create new laws, but don’t enforce the ones already on the books.

  7. FrankLeeDoobyus says:

    “I think in a park setting, there’s a lot more kids and that’s why I think it’s more important to ban it at a park than at a bar,” said Nimita Sheth.

    Well, Nimita, it’s been banned in bars, restaurants, and any other indoor public space for some time now. But, right – once again let’s raise the old “we can sell ’em anything with this battle cry” BS of – “Do it for the children!” Like the Maryland state lottery, lotto, slots casinos, etcetera ad infinitum. It’s not about “saving the children,” dummy; it’s about selling you yet another PC-extremist agenda item.

    “I have sympathy but they’ve got plenty of other options,” said Dave Friedman

    And just what are all those “other options,” Dave? See Nimita’s quote above and the illogic and base stupidity of it. In Maryland and too many other extreme liberal states, the only option any of us now have is to stop doing anything that might ever even possibly offend any of PC extremists who firmly believe that the only one who should be in charge of anyone else’s life – is THEM!

    Once again the “politically correct” extremists entice the liberal left Democrat government(s) in Maryland to “bully” anyone who might do anything that might in some way offend them.

    It’s one of the ways the extremists in government think they can “buy” the votes of what they believe is the liberal majority – and, God help us, in Maryland, they’re absolutely correct. That and the decades old political manipulation of the democratic party to “buy” the minority vote with ever-expanding welfare program bribes. It’s been the lynchpin of the democratic party in America since the 50s.

    What will you do when all the “rich” people (those of us who were raised to be proud to work for an honest living and not take what isn’t ours) run out of money to fund your welfare bribes? It isn’t “Free” if someone else pays for it.

    It is not a function of any government to “bully” it’s citizenry and force them to abide by the personal view/values of the extremist politically correct.

  8. neil says:

    what would be the effect if everyone stopped somking –which taxes would be raised for the lost income

  9. jbay says:

    OK I wont smoke there but what I will do is empty my ash tray every time I am at the parks in Howard county right on the park property…you clowns in office should be doing something about the illegals instead of worrying who the f*(k is smoking out doors you idiots. You will lose my vote and all smokers you bunch of clowns, just like our President but he is the ring leader of you sorry lame idiots.

    1. SuRev says:

      Isn’t that what you and your filthy ilk do now anyway jbay? I used to have a lot more sympathy for smokers, but as I’ve grown older I’ve become disgusted by their selfish attitude and the way they dump your trash wherever it’s convenient. Every time I pull up to a stop sign or red light I look over and see hundreds of discarded butts. So since you haven’t learned that TRASH goes in the TRASH CAN, and not in the street, I have no problem as we board you up in your own homes. That way the only people who have to deal with your stink and garbage are yourselves and your own ignorant and worthless families.

      1. gosmokies says:

        SuRev- You must be a left wing liberal because of the all of the hatred pouring out of you! lol. you make me laugh at what you are writing. Can you not come up with anything better then that? I do not smoke, however, I fell that smokers have the same FREEDOM as no smokers do and they should be allowed to exercise it. This is the USA isn’t it? Want to talk about trash in the streets? Drive around the city and looki at the trash in the streets there, I don’t hear you saying anything about that. Also- you have to remember opinions are like as*holes, everybody has one!

      2. whatnow says:

        Just remember your rationale when they take away something you like. You have opened the door to the slippery slope.

      3. SuRev says:

        gosmokies – right, I’m sure you’re not a smoker with the nickname ‘gosmokies’. Hahaha! That’s ok, you’ll weed yourself out of the gene pool soon enough. I also hate the trash around the city, and I’d have just as harsh a comment for anyone who got on this board and proudly announced that they would go out of their way to dump even more trash in the streets as jbay did. Don’t you get it? You single-digit IQ throwbacks whine like sad, middle aged women that your rights are being taken away while at the same time insisting that the world just deal with all the garbage you throw all over the place. If you want respect you have to give respect, and I never see that coming from a smoker.

        whatnow – I fully support anyone’s right to smoke if that is what they wish… but they need to do it in a way that doesn’t infringe on MY right to breathe clean air. You can puff away in your stinky, yellowed homes all day long – have a ball! Just like you may not want me to force a beer through a funnel and into your mouth if you didn’t want it, I don’t want your smoke in my lungs. “Freedom” means your right to swing your arms ends at my nose. Or in this case, your right to suck in smoke so long as you keep it entirely to yourself.

  10. MDLame says:

    A recent $4.2 million settlement between the Department of Labor and a Maryland county school system over its failure to pay visa fees for foreign teachers underscores the difficulty some districts are having meeting complex federal rules that govern teacher hiring.

    The Prince George’s County school system last week reached an agreement with the Labor Department to pay $4.2 million to more than 1,000 foreign teachers, to compensate them for work visa fees which — under federal law — the school system was supposed to pay. The school system will also pay a $100,000 penalty, presuming the deal is approved by an administrative judge.

    According to the Labor Department, employers like the Prince George’s school system must pay work visa fees in order to ensure foreign teachers are paid at least the same “wage rates” as other U.S. workers. By not paying those fees, the department claims, the system “illegally reduced the wages” of the foreign workers. The apparent goal is to make sure the wages of U.S. workers aren’t depressed as a result.

    “The Labor Department has the responsibility for ensuring that employers who use the H-1B program follow the law and do not place U.S. workers at a disadvantage to H-1B workers,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement.

    But the resolution of the Maryland case shines a light on the tricky spot school systems across the country find themselves.

    For years, school systems have been scrambling to recruit qualified teachers, sometimes looking overseas to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind, which states that K-12 teachers in “core academic subjects” had to be “highly qualified.”

    In so doing, some have shirked their obligation under federal labor law to front those visa fees. Yet, in the case of Prince George’s County, to actually comply with labor law may be too costly.

    “The reality is in meeting those requirements of one federal agency we got in trouble with another federal agency,” one Prince George’s County schools official told on background.

    As a result of the settlement, Prince George’s will be barred from recruiting foreign teachers and extending their visas for two years. In the near-term, that means 161 foreign teachers will be forced out of the school system in the next two months due to expired visas, with another 100 following close behind by the beginning of 2012.

    In the long-term, the county likely cannot afford to continue hiring teachers from overseas. It typically costs several thousand dollars to sponsor a foreign teacher — costs that add up when jurisdictions are hiring hundreds of teachers from overseas.

    “Obviously, this is not the outcome we had hoped for as these employees have provided an exceptional service to our school district,” the county school system said in a statement. “However, in the final analysis of the current state of our shrinking school budget and mounting legal fees, we determined that we simply could not afford to continue to operate this program.”

    Fortunately for Prince George’s, the pool of available recruits in the U.S. is no longer as shallow as it was when the unemployment rate was lower and the county started looking overseas.

    “Now you can actually fill those vacancies with American teachers,” the county schools official said. “That’s the only good thing that will come out of this.”

    It’s unclear what might happen if, when the economy bounces back, the system faces another domestic teacher shortage. Prince George’s is not the only district to run into problems.

    In Baltimore, the city school system plans to reimburse any foreign teachers who ended up paying their own work visa fees. According to The Baltimore Sun, a number of Filipino teachers were brought into the system after paying their own immigration costs to employment firms in the Philippines.

    Baltimore schools spokeswoman Edie Foster told the school system is still reviewing its records to determine how much to pay but is committed to complying with the law. Like Prince George’s, Baltimore recently has received more than enough applications from U.S. teachers — meaning, for the time being, the city is not looking overseas for recruits.

    In Louisiana, the American Federation of Teachers and other groups last year also filed suit on behalf of hundreds of Filipino teachers. The suit alleged that the recruitment firms charged them exorbitant fees and that, on top of that, the recruits were not informed that the school districts were supposed to pay visa-related charges. The suit named the East Baton Rouge Public School System along with the recruitment firms.

    According to the AFT, the number of foreign teachers brought into the U.S. between 2002 and 2006 climbed from 15,000 to more than 19,000.

    In Prince George’s, the school system claims it did not intentionally violate federal requirements to front the visa fees. The system claimed a combination of factors were to blame — that it was late in realizing the requirement, that some teachers paid their fees directly to an employment firm, and that some teachers paid the fees up front and were reimbursed later.

    1. whatnow says:

      My niece goes to a school with American and Turkish teachers. It is AMAZING how superior the Turkish teachers are the the Americans and how much more they captivate the students and make them enjoy learning.

    2. Is this Relevant? says:

      Love your comment.

      Too bad it has nothing to do with the topic here.

      Why don’t you post your comment where it is relevant to the discussion?

      We are talking about regulations, regarding SMOKING here.

    3. Really? says:

      What does this have to do with me smoking in the park? I will be smoking in the park,I will do as I please.this is a free country,its bad enough you cant smoke inside bars anymore,but now the damn outdoors?what the eff

  11. mark says:

    What a farce they have perpetuated. If you think the product is so dangerous that its’ use has to be outlawed nearly everywhere, then ban the sale of it. If it is so dangerous then outlaw the sale of cigarettes in the county and state. Second hand smoke has not been proven hazardous and no amount of lies out of our executive liars will change that fact.

  12. bmoregyrl says:

    I am happy that they are leading the way. Now kids don’t have to be subject to smokers. I wish they would do this at the beaches as well. The smell of smoke is gross. Its a dirty habit and I can’t wait for Baltimore Co. to do it. The first person I see putting their butts out on the street I will get there plate number and call the cops so they get a ticket in hopes that they learn from it and I will do it everytime I see someone do it. Come on Baltimore Co let’s start banning smoking in the park.

    1. CoreF says:

      lol and let me know the day you’re freedoms disappear and you’re shrugging going, wait a minute, what happened? I find people like you so incredibly humorous. You’re all ready to step up to the plate and be the first one to wave your arms going oh mighty government please stop this thing I don’t like, but when the time comes for something to stop that you like where will you be then?

      1. CoreF says:


    2. Vick says:

      I would be careful reporting people to the police in Baltimore. Stay in your damn house if it bothers you that bad and mind your own. Damn Snitch.

      1. bmoregyrl says:

        No I will not watch its my right to call and report someone. I don’t need to stay in my house. Let the damn smokers stay in there our house and give themselves lung cancer. I saw grand mom die of lung cancer and I would not wish that on anyone. That is why I am for it. I don’t smoke and really don’t care if the smokers are mad. There are more non smokers then there is smokers. So stay home and smoke. I hate when I am driving and see anyone putting trash or cig butts our there window.

      2. SuRev says:

        Tell you what Vick, if you want to smoke like a chimney why don’t YOU stay in YOUR house? You get what you want, we get what we want. Simple, right? Everyone’s rights are being respected.

      3. Chevy says:

        bmoregyrl, I have an idea: How about you propose an alternative for the amount of revenue that cigarette sales generate, so that way cigarettes can become illegal? If the government really cared about human lives, cigarettes would be outlawed, but the fact is, too much money is made from cigarettes for them to do that. Road repairs, police, education, and medical care for uninsured children all benefit from tobacco. While protecting children from the dangers of smoking, I propose making strip clubs, fast food restaurants, and bars illegal as well, in order to protect our youth.

    3. SuRev says:

      Right on bmoregyrl! If people want to liter they should be prepared to face the fine.

  13. Mary Theresa says:

    This is OUTRAGEOUS!!! It is OUTDOORS for pete’s sake!!! Next, what are they gonna do tell you when and where you can cook on an outdoor grill???? That is breathing smoke too!!!! Dumb!!!!

  14. Fred says:

    What happened to; “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happyness.” This beyond ridiculous. Cigerettes are legal, smokers pay taxes just like anyone else. Smoking outdoors does not harm anyone any more than a charcoal cooking fire does. In fact the charcoal fire cause more harm and sends moe pollutants into the air than the equivalent smoke from smokers. So let’s ban cooking fires as well since it is a known fact that this type of cooking is a known carcinogenic.

    Geore Orwell alive and well living in Ken Ulmans’ Howard County 2011.

  15. whatnow says:

    First, the journalist should have done a little more research. They banned smoking in Anne Arundel parks about 6 or 7 years ago. Secondly, protecting the children, really, what a laugh, the only people I see smoking now are old alcoholics missing half their teeth and kids under the age of 25!

    1. Vick says:

      I am so sick about the protecting children BS. I do not have kids because I dont feel like worrying about kids….so why they hell am i forced to care about everyone else’s children.

  16. PAUL E. MICELLI says:

    Your TAX DOLLARS was used to introduce this bill and WASTE the Taxpayers Monies. If it’s legal what’s the problem? They don’t even enforce the “ILLEGAL ALIENS” for anything, don’t even ARREST them and DEPORT them!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s address IMPORTANT ISSUES that are facing all of us like, TAXES, UNEMPLOYMENT, SMALL BUSINESS, ECONOMIC PROBLEMS. WASTE, WASTE, waste the taxpayers monies

  17. v says:

    I completely agree with this law no one needs to inhale side stream smoke… If you want to smoke go do it in private and keep it away from others!

    1. CoreF says:

      Yes, I don’t like the smell of something so you can’t do it!!!

    2. Agreed says:

      I agree. Smokers still have the right to smoke, but their right to smoke doesn’t trump anyone else’s right to breathe.

      I went to the beach over 4th of July weekend. I didn’t enjoy it because I was having trouble breathing and getting a headache because of several nearby smokers.

      Smokers should consider others and smoke in areas where it won’t affect others’ health and well being. Since many smokers fail to do this, a law is now required. Too bad…

  18. whatnow says:

    Actually, I hate the smell of the heavy perfumes and after shaves, they choke me up and I can’t breathe. Let’s outlaw those while we are at it. Read the ingredients, they’ll kill you as fast as a cigeratte will.

  19. Americanjoe says:

    Everyone seems to be talking about their rights Let’s get the holier than thou attitudes in the riigt place.

    I am one of the emergency service workers that have come to the aid of some of you who think nothing of having a drink with lunch and driving backnto work or your next appointment. If you survive the accident you tell us it was only wine or one drink. Talking on cell phone and texting while driving another cause of accidents.

    You tell us it is not against the law to drink or use a cell phone. You were not legally drunk, ” I have my rights”. Well so do other people but it seems it is only objectionable when your rights are infringed on.

    1. SuRev says:

      Americanjoe this made no sense at all. Are you saying that the smokers are wrong to be insisting on their ‘rights’, or that non-smokers are? Worst analogies ever.

      Talking on a cell phone or texting while driving are illegal, so if you do so and cause an accident you are (rightly) at fault. Ditto if you’re driving while intoxicated. You see, these things have been outlawed because they are dangerous for other people. Just like smoking in public places. Your examples simply suck.

  20. jason says:

    I wonder how many of these so called lawmakers fertilze there lawns and let there children play in the grass- have you ever followed a school bus and smell that polutant coming out of that tailpipe? There’s more concerns in HC that need to be addresed rather than smoke coming from a cigareete… Get real!!!

  21. Look more Closely. says:

    Its a personal choice, whether good, bad, or indifferent.
    The critical issue here, is the role of local government. Government has already out-grown its ability to effectively serve the people that support it. The shear size of our government today is sucking the life out of the working population. As the economy spirals into possible collapse, our government continues to impliment new taxes, fees, and surcharges; on top of yesterday’s insidious charges. We, as the working Americans, are running out of money (as rediculous as it seems, since we are the ones earning all of the money). Our government is a monster that is obsessed with control of the population, yet it has not the ability to control itself. The forefathers of our once-great nation carefully constructed our model government to insure individual freedoms for all, whether weathy, poor, educated, or not; so that each would have the opportunity to choose their own path in this land. Great care was taken to insure that the “government” would not ever have the ability to control the actions of the population down to the minute decisions regarding personal choices. I don’t choose to smoke, myself, but I support the “right” for others to choose (although I might suggest they consider quitting for their own good). When we allow our government to choose for us, what we have a constitutional right to choose for ourselves, we willingly surrender our rights to the oversight of our “government”, and our freedom is forever diminished.
    If the objective is to promote healthier habits, then spend the money on education of the public, regarding the health risks. Clearly, this has already been done. There is not a smoker in the land that is unaware of the risks associated with smoking, yet they choose to smoke. To clarify: they choose to smoke because they have the right to choose. If smoking is out-lawed, we loose another of our rights. It should be noted that we are loosing our rights at a fast pace in today’s world, and that we do not have the luxury to “willingly” toss yet another “right” onto the government fire.

    1. Agreed says:

      I am in agreement with most of what you wrote. However, when a smoker lights up around others, he/she is infringing upon the rights of those others. The smoker does have the right to smoke. However, limitations on where will not harm the smoker while no limitations on where does affect others, KWIM?