Village's Smoking Ban Assailed in Court
The Friendship Heights smoking ban went on trial yesterday, with those seeking to overturn it arguing that the village does not have the authority to prohibit the use of tobacco products on publicly maintained property such as sidewalks and parks.
Such "police powers" can be exercised only by counties or municipalities, not special taxing districts such as Friendship Heights, argued lawyer Timothy F. Maloney.
The village of 5,000 people gained worldwide media attention after it approved the nation's strictest tobacco ban in December.
The village's attorney played down previous statements that the ban's primary aim was to reduce smoking, arguing that the village has the right to adopt sanitation, police or health regulations. "It is not a tobacco ban," said lawyer William J. Roberts. "It is a minor restriction on the use of the defendant's property."
Last month, a judge temporarily blocked the village from enforcing the ban. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Durke G. Thompson said he would rule within 10 days.