- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he is considering vetoing a smoking ban passed by the D.C. Council yesterday because he is concerned that people will leave the city to smoke elsewhere.

“It is one thing to say the whole region ought to have the no-smoking ban, and if the whole region were to do this, I would have no problem with us doing it,” Mr. Williams said during his weekly press briefing, hours before the council approved the ban.

“My problem, again, is this leakage out into Virginia,” the Democratic mayor said. “And I think that we are not in a position as a city to be taking that for granted.”

Mr. Williams said he wants to see a smoking ban only in restaurants and wants the city to allow smoking in bars.

Still, the Democrat-controlled 13-member council voted 11-1 to approve a wider ban by Jan. 1 2007, after more than three hours of sometimes heated debate.

Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, was the only one to vote against the bill.

“People will either stay home or they will go where they can smoke,” Mrs. Schwartz said. “And I have said all along that our competition is only a five-minute Metro ride away or a 10-minute drive away.”

Council member Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, was absent.

The legislation bans smoking in most places, with the exception of hotel rooms, medical research facilities, cigar and hookah bars, and tobacco stores.

Bars, restaurants, brew pubs, taverns and nightclubs that earn at least 10 percent of their revenue through tobacco sales also would be exempt.

Passage of the legislation brought cheers from anti-smoking advocates.

“It is a great day for everyone who works in or patronizes a bar or restaurant in the District of Columbia,” said Angela Bradbery, a co-founder of Smokefree D.C.

Smokefree D.C. co-founder Michael Tacelosky agreed. “We are pretty pleased,” he said. “We certainly wished that it would have happened faster. There are a couple of things that we wished we had gotten, but at the end of 2007, D.C. will be a solidly smoke-free city.”

Mr. Williams said the council’s strong support of the bill does not mean that he will not veto it.

“I still would do it anyway, just as a point, perhaps,” he said.

Meanwhile, James Robey, chief executive of Howard County, Md., said he would veto a smoking ban approved by the County Council Tuesday night.

In a 3-2 vote, the council passed a bill that would ban smoking in county bars and restaurants by 2010.

Mr. Robey wants the ban to take effect by 2008, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun.

Montgomery County banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003, and Prince George’s County recently enacted similar legislation.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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