January 28, 2020
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Maine drive-in patrons fume over smoking ban

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The familiar 20th Century Fox logo flashes on the screen at the Bridgton Twin Drive-In in this September 2013 file photo.

BRIDGTON, Maine — New efforts to comply with its state license to serve food and drinks have some of the patrons of the Bridgton Twin Drive-In taking to social media to complain.

According to posts on the drive-in’s Facebook page and a recorded message on its phone line, the summer business has been warned by the Maine attorney general’s office that it needs to crack down on smoking — including inside private vehicles that are parked at the show.

“The drive-in is licensed as an eating establishment and, as such, not only is smoking prohibited in the concession facilities and restrooms but also ALL places where food and drinks may be consumed. According to the state of Maine, your vehicle on our lot must also be smoke-free for the drive-in to be in compliance,” a notice on the drive-in’s Facebook page reads.

Owners of the drive-in, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, appear to be taking the warning seriously and said as it does with alcohol, those caught smoking will be asked to leave — and escorted from the premises by the police if they fail to comply.

The notice had some of the drive-in’s fans on Facebook in an uproar.

“Today I learned that an open air field larger than 5-10 acres is apparently an all-inclusive fine dining establishment,” one person posted. “At least according to the extremely bored Maine Attorney General’s office. At least we still have private clubs like the VFW.”

Another wrote, “We’re talking about being outdoors. I understand not smoking in a restaurant or any indoor public building. But outside? What will they do next? When will it stop?”

Others said they understood the ban and also said they have had their experiences at the drive-in undermined by somebody smoking in a car nearby.

One person even complained that cigar smoke from another smoker’s car caused their car to stink for a week after the show.

“As a smoker, I do not allow smoking in my vehicles,” another fan of the drive-in wrote. “Last year I was here and an older gentleman was smoking a cigar, about two cars over. My car stunk of that nasty cigar for a week. Not only did my car pick up the odor but it made for a miserable time with two kids.”

While some seemed to take aim at the ownership of the drive-in for drawing a hard line on the smoking ban, others came to management’s defense.

“Clearly he doesn’t have a choice so don’t give him crap,” one person wrote. “Personally as a parent with two kids, I cannot stand it when my car begins smelling like cigarette smoke from surrounding vehicles. Walk out to the road and smoke.”

Tim Feeley, a spokesman for Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, said Friday that all five of Maine’s drive-ins that are licensed as outdoor eating establishments were reminded of the state’s smoke-free laws after complaints were filed by patrons in 2015.

“It turns out that the drive-ins were probably not educated about Maine’s smoke-free laws regarding outdoor eating establishments,” Feeley said in an email. “This letter was sent by our tobacco enforcement coordinator to all five as a way to educate them about the law and the obligations they have as a licensee.”


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