Howard County Executive and MACo President Ken Ulman has issued an executive order that bans smoking in all 57 county park properties, The Baltimore Sun reports. Howard County, which led the state in 1993 in prohibiting indoor smoking, will now extend the ban to park properties, excluding those owned by the Columbia Association.
“We believe public health is a priority,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, the county’s health officer. “We used to have designated smoking spaces, but it concentrates the problem. It’s clearly a detriment to people’s health.”
Beilenson said the county has one of the lowest smoking rates in the state, between an estimated 9 percent and 10 percent, according to the most recent national Behavioral Risk Factor Survey. But the health officer said the county had a lower ranking for physical activity, which officials hope to improve.
“The vast majority of Howard County does not smoke,” Beilenson said. “Public property is meant to be enjoyed by the majority.”
County officials said that people caught smoking in a park would be asked to stop, and, if they refused, asked to leave. They said violators could be assessed civil fines between $500 and $1,000 for refusing to vacate the property.