Maryland Puts Smoking Ban Into Action

From Associated Press

Smokers won't be able to light up at the office or in bars, restaurants and hotels under a statewide ban ordered Thursday by Gov. Parris Glendening.

The regulation--one of the nation's most comprehensive--prohibits smoking in all indoor workplaces, except tobacco shops, laboratories doing research on smoking and employee lounges ventilated directly outdoors.

Only California, Vermont and Utah have anti-smoking laws as strict.

"We must make Maryland a healthy state," said Glendening, a Democrat. "What we do not want is for Maryland to be known as the cancer state."

Maryland has the nation's fourth-highest cancer rate.

The state's top court last week lifted an injunction that had been placed on the ban while opponents challenged it. The ban, proposed a year ago, takes effect March 27.

But some lawmakers haven't stopped fighting.

A bill was introduced Thursday to exempt hotels, motels and any business, including convention centers, with a liquor license. Sponsors say Maryland's $4.5-billion tourism industry could be devastated by the ban.

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