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The "ashtray" of the east

Supporters of turning Maryland's bars and restaurants smoke-free were ecstatic about news that Virginia's Senate had gathered momentum to pass a statewide smoking ban.

"It appears to me that hell has frozen over in Richmond," said Del. Barbara Frush (D-Prince George's), the bill's sponsor in the House, where there was a hearing Tuesday in the Health Committee.

"Virginia was the last place I thought it would pass," she said. "It just adds momentum to what we're doing here."

But word that the more tobacco-oriented state to the South had "one-upped" Maryland, as one supporter put it, also caused some to turn a critical eye to Maryland.

Eleven states, including Delaware, New York and New Jersey have passed statewide smoke-free laws.

"Maryland and Pennsylvania are backwaters," said Eric Gally, a lobbyist in Annapolis for the American Cancer Society. "We're becoming the ashtray of the Mid-Atlantic."

By Ann Marimow  |  February 14, 2006; 6:26 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Comments

Thank god we are a "backwater" that actually believes in a little liberty. Of course, I have no illusion this belief in liberty is our General Assembly making as positive affirmation that business owner should have freedom to set their own rules regarding smoking in the building they own. No, I fear our liberty in this area is only due to the fact that our legislature is too busy targeting Wal-Mart by forcing it to pay more in taxes and trying to restore the franchise to felons. I'm sure our esteemed legislators will soon get around to expanding the nanny state a little more by preventing people from patronizing places that allow smoking. And a little more of our freedom will go down the toilet. . .

Posted by: MK | February 15, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

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