Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Maryland

A business, like a cafe with an outdoor sitting area by the front door at a strip mall, has signs posted that read "no smoking." I noticed there are no state or county ordinances that say you cannot smoke outside of a private business. Can this business enforce their no-smoking policy? If so, how many feet away from the business does it become outside of their jurisdiction so that one may smoke a cigarette? Can enforcement lead to criminal arrest if the police are called?

Asked on 9/02/13, 12:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

If the business owns or leases the outdoor area, then it can forbid people to smoke there. It's private property, and the owners get to make the rules. There are some limits to what the owners can require or forbid, but there is no law that requires them to allow smoking.

How far away do you have to be from the business before you can smoke? As far as the property line -- and even there, you can only smoke if the owner of that land allows it.

Can you be arrested for smoking if the police are called? That depends. But even if smoking can't get you arrested, trespassing can. That's what you're doing if the owners tell you to leave and you insist on staying.

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Answered on 9/02/13, 1:12 pm

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