Rochester health board approves smoking ban
ROCHESTER -- The Board of Health approved a smoking ban Tuesday, heading off the anti-smoking campaign that has pushed for such bans across SouthCoast.
"We wanted to get this done before we got overwhelming pressure," said board member Dale Barrows, a smoker. "It's better to be proactive than reactive.
"We had seen what went on in other towns, especially in Mattapoisett. We didn't want to get forced into making a decision."
In neighboring Mattapoisett last year, the board bowed to tremendous special-interest pressure and instituted a ban.
Earlier this month, Marion voters at Town Meeting tabled a ban in the face of mounting pressure.
Rochester's ban, which takes effect July 1, includes all public places, including hallways, elevators, entranceways, stairwells, restrooms and waiting areas.
It does not, however, include smoking at recreational facilities like athletic fields. That aspect of the ban was scrapped because of the difficulty of enforcement. The board was also told that the Recreation Department already prohibits smoking there.
Violations of the law will carry $100 fines. Any business cited three times in one year could have its licenses suspended or revoked.
Mr. Barrows said Rochester's decision might pressure Marion's board to consider a ban.
"They're seeing it happening all around them," he said.
But Marion board members have yet to snuff out restaurant smoking, although its smoking regulations are stiffer than many towns that allow smoking.
The town allows restaurants to provide smoking lounges, but only in bars or rooms that are completely separated from nonsmoking areas.
The Marion board also got a vote of confidence at Town Meeting, when voters overwhelmingly decided to not even discuss the issue, indefinitely tabling it.