Bowie Council considers banning smoking on all city property
Prohibition would apply to festivals at city parks
Bowie council members are considering imposing a no-smoking ban on all city property as a way to promote good health by reducing exposure to second-hand smoke.
Bowie currently prohibits smoking inside city buildings, said City Manager David Deutsch at the council's regular meeting on Monday night.
Deutsch originally proposed expanding the policy to within 100 feet of a city building and to city playgrounds and ball fields.
But during discussion, council members asked what might be involved in banning smoking by everybody on all city properties, including public parks and at events such as BowieFest, the International Festival and concerts at Allen Pond park.
"You'd be making a broad, blanket statement [by doing that]," said Deutsch, indicating that city staff would support such a move.
Deutsch said his understanding is that the council wants him to prepare a resolution for discussion at its next meeting on March 21. Other cities in Prince George's County that have taken similar actions are Laurel and College Park.
A question was also raised about what might be involved in passing an ordinance with penalties as opposed to a policy without penalties.
Under the original staff proposal, city employees would be allowed to smoke in a private car on city property but would not be allowed to smoke in a city-owned car.
Employees violating the policy would be asked to put out their cigarettes.
"If an employee refused to comply, necessary and appropriate disciplinary measures may be taken," Deutsch wrote.
Deutsch said the intent of the proposed changes is to reduce the ill effects of second-hand tobacco smoke, a move that could also reduce what the city pays in health insurance premiums.
Last year, the city paid about $1.9 million for employee health insurance, he said. Someone who smokes submits an average of $1,600 more a year in medical claims than a nonsmoker, Deutsch said.
Deutsch said the city personnel director is developing a wellness program for employees as a way to reduce costs. He has also said that the new city hall includes a fitness center for employees as a way to promote exercise and good health.
Two residents spoke in favor of expanding no-smoking restrictions, including Bowie resident John O'Hara, with the Maryland Group Against Smokers' Pollution.
O'Hara said he would like to see the policy extended to stages and stage viewing areas in public parks. He recounted engaging in a "battle" with a man smoking a cigar that was bothering people at a concert in Allen Pond Park. O'Hara said he talked to the man, who ultimately walked away.
No one spoke against the proposed restrictions on Monday.