ANNAPOLIS - Smokers who thought Maryland was finished pushing them out when the state banned smoking inside public buildings in 1995 are in for a shock.
If Delegate John Arnick, Baltimore County Democrat, has his way, anyone caught smoking in a park, public recreation area or on school property in Maryland could get slapped with a $25 fine.
Reaction to the proposed crackdown on smoking in public parks has been so negative, though, that Mr. Arnick is already backpedaling: He says he plans to eliminate parks from the ban.
That compromise isn't enough for critics who see Mr. Arnick's anti-smoking initiative as an unwarranted expansion of Big Brother-style government.
"Let's see, I can smoke in my home . . . and in my car, but that's probably only until next year. I'm not sure if I can smoke on the water because it's a recreational resource," said Delegate George W. Owings, the House Democratic whip, who represents Calvert and Anne Arundel counties.
"Current laws are being ignored in schools. It's ridiculous," said Bruce Bereano, a lobbyist representing tobacco wholesalers and retailers. "There's absolutely no rationale for this.
"You've got to at some point recognize the fact that there are adults in this state that are going to smoke, no matter what you do, and be reasonable and let them live their lives," Mr. Bereano said.
Delegate Charles R. Boutin, Harford County Republican, wondered aloud yesterday if the anti-smoking movement's ultimate goal is a ban on any use of tobacco anywhere in the state.
The ban, as currently envisioned, could create some unusual enforcement scenarios. Boaters, for example who pull into a slip at a state-owned marina, would be subject to a $25 fine for stepping onto the dock with a lit cigarette, pipe or cigar. An adult smoking in his or her car while driving in a school parking lot could also be fined. …