Strict Smoking Ban Takes Effect in Cambridge, Mass.

Associated Press

Many tobacco lovers in this city of 88,000 will have to light up away from their desks today because of a smoking ban that went into effect over the weekend affecting virtually all public places.

As of Sunday, this hub of academia and home of Harvard University outlawed smoking in private, state, county and municipal buildings, affecting an estimated 96,000 workers.

Each institution is to set a smoking policy with nonsmokers in mind. Designated smoking areas may be established only if they do not affect nonsmokers.


The ordinance has prompted one bank to urge workers to kick the habit. The Cambridgeport Savings Bank, which has branches in Cambridge, Lexington and Winchester, is offering to pay for employees’ attendance at programs to help them quit smoking, and even brought in a hypnotist to help.

‘Teeth to Do Something’

“I applaud the City Council for giving us the teeth to do something we should have been doing anyway,” bank President James B. Keegan said.

The bank will comply with a no-smoking policy in all of its offices, Keegan said. Smoking will be restricted to two designated areas but only until July 30, he said.

Mayor Walter J. Sullivan, a cigar lover who smokes about two per day, was the only opponent when the Cambridge City Council passed the ordinance three months ago, 8 to 1.

“I don’t get upset about it,” Sullivan said Sunday. “It’ll work out; it’ll take awhile. Maybe it’s good; maybe it’s bad--I don’t like to take anyone’s options away.”

Late last week, City Hall was plastered with “No Smoking” signs, as were police and fire stations and the lobbies of banks and hotels.

Barbara Sullivan, director of the Chamber of Commerce, said she has no-smoking signs for any businesses requesting them. The chamber also sent its 700 members fact sheets and updates on the ordinance.

Fines of $25 to $100

Nonsmokers who think that a firm or institution has not complied with the ordinance may appeal to the city health commissioner. Non-compliant establishments face fines of $25 to $100.

Individual infractions could result in a charge of disorderly conduct, police Officer Jay Lyons said.

The ordinance broadens previous restrictions on smoking in certain public venues and parts of restaurants. The only exceptions left are businesses with offices smaller than 1,500 square feet whose employees agree that no smoking policy is needed; veteran and fraternal organizations; “beano” games, similar to bingo, and restaurants with 25 or fewer seats.

Some moderate-size firms say they will find compliance with the ban difficult.

“For small organizations, it does cause some unique problems,” said Raymond Considine, director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Services. Of the 30 people in his office, about five smoke, he said.

“We have a lot of people packed into small spaces; space is at a premium,” he said. “We just can’t set aside space for smokers.”