Lawsuit filed to overturn smoking ban
A group of 200 Montgomery County restaurant owners, employees and customers and the Restaurant Association of Maryland filed suit in Circuit Court yesterday to overturn the county's recently enacted ban on smoking in restaurants that is set to go into eff
The suit claims the County Council acted illegally in March when it approved a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars that takes effect in 2002. The plaintiffs say the ban will have a devastating economic impact on the county restaurant business, driving away up to 25 percent of their customers, who will go to Prince George's or Frederick counties or the District of Columbia, where laws are less strict. Already, they say, restaurant companies have shelved plans to locate in Montgomery County because of the ban and are looking to set up out of county or out of state. The suit argues, among other things, that the controversial ban, enacted as a regulation in March by the County Council sitting as the Board of Health, conflicts with state law, is beyond the board's authority and unfairly exempts private clubs.