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Posted at 11:56 AM ET, 02/ 3/2009

Smoking Banned in Virginia Bars -- By Choice

By Fritz Hahn

It looks like yet another bill to ban smoking in Virginia's restaurants and bars is doomed to failure in the House of Delegates. But while the state is preserving patrons' right to smoke with a beer or a meal, individual restaurateurs are deciding to take the matter into their own hands and declaring their restaurants smoke-free.

Capitol City Brewing Company and Clarendon Grill were among the popular bars that voluntarily banned smoking last summer. Velocity Five, the best sports bar to open in Northern Virginia in years, was nonsmoking before it served its first customer.

Now two more names are joining their ranks. Mango Mike's, the Alexandria beach bar where rum drinks flow and pina coladas are served in coconut husks, will go smoke-free on Valentine's Day. "We've been talking about it for the last two years," says owner "Mango" Mike Anderson. "We hoped the state legislature would push a bill through, but we just decided it was time for a change."

Anderson says that it's a polarizing topic, noting that "about 80 percent of the bar customers smoke. They're not happy about it, and there's grumbling, but most of them say 'Well, we've seen it coming.'"

For now, customers who want a cigarette can step out onto the tropical-themed Boat Bar on the patio, but once the weather warms up, Anderson says he might make the outdoor areas smoke-free too.

And Eventide, the new bar and restaurant from the team behind Clarendon's Clarendon Ballroom, will follow its sister establishment and ban smoking when it opens later this month. (The only exception will be at the bar on the rooftop deck, though smoking won't be allowed at the roof's dinner tables.)

With this trend in mind, we've put together a list of our favorite smoke-free Virginia bars and restaurants. Have your own picks? Add them in the comments. (Smokers, we haven't forgotten about you - here's the list of D.C. bars that welcome cigars and cigarettes.)

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | February 3, 2009; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Comments

And this is the way it should be - individual bars & restaurants deciding for themselves. Apologies to you, Mango Mike's, but you didn't need to wait for the nanny state to come down & force you to go smoke-free. I'm glad you finally came to your senses about that. Down with the nanny state!

Posted by: blahblah6b | February 3, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The links in this paragraph don't work:

With this trend in mind, we've put together a list of our favorite smoke-free Virginia bars and restaurants. Have your own picks? Add them in the comments. (Smokers, we haven't forgotten about you - here's the list of D.C. bars that welcome cigars and cigarettes.)

Posted by: bpm2000 | February 3, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I would have to add Spider Kelly's to the list of non-smoking bars to go to.

Posted by: rantcity | February 3, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

bpm2000, I've had a couple other people try those links and they seem to work. If you try again and they're still not functional, could you drop me a line and let me know what's happening? fritz dot hahn [at] washingtonpost dot com. Thanks.

Posted by: Fritz Hahn | February 3, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Virginia workers deserve a smokefree environment. The House of Delegates should pass this now. As a lifelong Virginian, I am disappointed my state is taking so long to act on this.

Posted by: Pedalada | February 3, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I believe the new Union Jack's in Ballston is also smoke-free

Posted by: DC2CNY | February 3, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

The Boulevard Woodgrill in Clarendon is smoke-free.

Posted by: kmh1 | February 4, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The Bonefish and its bar on Route 50 in Centreville is smoke free. I believe the other two Bonefish locations are also, but have not been to them.

Posted by: garyrmcmullin | February 6, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Wanted to point out a correction on the smoke-free list. Sweetwater Tavern is absolutely NOT smoke free. They permit smoking in the bar and it wafts throughout the entire establishment. Smoking in bars and restaurants is not a matter of individual freedom anymore than seatbelt laws and bans on mobile phones while driving. Smoking is a proven health hazard and second hand smoke is a known carcinogen. It is a matter of public health and worker safety. I wish more restaurants would ban smoking and I frequent those who do and avoid those that do not.

Posted by: johnjohnthomas | February 10, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

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