Montgomery County, Maryland, Plans $750 Fine if Smoking Bothers Neighbors; Guest Choice Network Asks, 'What's Next?'

Nov 21, 2001, 00:00 ET from Guest Choice Network

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Montgomery County, Maryland, has
 established what The Washington Post calls "one of the most restrictive anti-
 smoking measures in the nation."
     "When Montgomery County's law takes effect, lighting up a cigar or
 cigarette in your own home -- or even in the backyard -- could cost you $750
 each and every time a neighbor complains," said Richard Berman, executive
 director of the Guest Choice Network. "While everyone has the right to choose
 not to smoke, this is an outrageous and absurd intrusion into the lives -- and
 homes -- of law-abiding citizens. It mimics those attempted bans on perfumes
 and deodorants because of 'multiple chemical sensitivity,' which one study
 termed 'a name in search of a disease,' and the 1998 government attempt to
 establish 'peanut-free buffer zones' on airline flights."
     The facts suggest Montgomery County's new law is a bad reading of science
 as well as of the U.S. Constitution. When the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak
 Ridge National Laboratory studied the effects of "second-hand smoke" last
 year, study overseer Roger Jenkins said "it's pretty clear that environmental
 tobacco smoke (ETS) dose is pretty low for most people." Oak Ridge found that
 tavern and restaurant servers, who are around more smokers than most people,
 are exposed to less than one-sixth of the Occupational Safety and Health
 Administration's maximum allowable level of ETS.
     The World Health Organization (WHO), which has sought a worldwide ban on
 public smoking, had its anti-smoking stance directly contradicted by the 1998
 conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, itself a
 subset of WHO. And in the United States, a federal judge declared the landmark
 1992 Environmental Protection Agency report on ETS (that sparked much of the
 current anti-smoking movement) "null and void," ruling that the EPA "acted
 illegally and corrupted science to engage in a campaign of misinformation."
     "With such misinformation rampant," Berman said, "it might not be long
 before Americans won't be able to sprinkle pepper on their meal at a
 restaurant for fear of making other patrons sneeze, fish is banned because
 some don't like its 'offensive' odor, and your fresh-brewed coffee is
 blacklisted because it interferes with your neighbor's aromatherapy."
     The Montgomery County law is just the latest erosion of the rights of
 individuals to make their own lifestyle choices. As one Montgomery County
 Council member who opposed the legislation put it, "If this isn't Big Brother
 putting their nose under your tent, I don't know what is."
     The Guest Choice Network is a coalition of more than 30,000 restaurants
 and tavern operators working together to protect the public's right to a full
 menu of dining and entertainment choices, through education, training and
 public outreach. To learn more, visit , or call
 Mike Burita at 202-463-7112.
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here

SOURCE Guest Choice Network