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Governor, Legislative Leaders Agree to Restaurant Smoking Ban

Virginia, a leading grower of tobacco in the U.S., will ban smoking in most restaurants and bars in an agreement announced today by Gov. Kaine. Only private clubs and restaurants, or those with an independently ventilated smoking room, would not be affected. The text of the governor's press release follows.

RICHMOND--Governor Timothy M. Kaine and key leaders in the General Assembly today announced a landmark agreement to pass a statewide smoking ban in Virginia's bars and restaurants. The legislation will ban smoking in nearly all restaurants across the Commonwealth, allowing narrow exceptions for private clubs and restaurants with a designated smoking room that is physically separated and independently ventilated from non-smoking dining areas.

"The dangers of second-hand smoke are undeniable--that's why I made a restaurant smoking ban one of my legislative priorities. This legislation will make Virginia's restaurants safer for both patrons and employees," Governor Kaine said. "I'm proud to have been able to work with leaders in both parties of the General Assembly to find common ground on this reasonable and necessary public health measure."

Today's announcement comes after Governor Kaine worked closely with legislative leaders to craft an agreement acceptable to both parties and both houses.

Virginia House Speaker William Howell also noted the agreement as a step forward for Virginians: "I am pleased to join in announcing a reasonable compromise on an issue important to Virginians," said Speaker Howell. "The compromise strikes a fair balance between the rights of smokers who choose to enjoy a legal product and the rights of other individuals who want to enjoy a smoke-free environment when eating at a restaurant. This legislation is all about finding opportunities for cooperation and compromise where possible. And, where state leaders can find and share such common ground, we should."

Second-hand smoke is responsible for an estimated 1,700 deaths per year, according to the Virginia Department of Health. In addition, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates the Commonwealth spends $113 million a year on health care expenditures related to exposure to second-hand smoke.

To improve the health of Virginia's employees and minimize health risks in the work place, Governor Kaine signed Executive Order 41 banning smoking in all state buildings and vehicles in October 2006.

The agreement makes Virginia part of a growing list of states around the country that are passing legislation curbing smoking in restaurants. Twenty-three other states and Puerto Rico have already passed bans on smoking indoors at bars and restaurants. Maryland and the District of Columbia passed similar restrictions on smoking in restaurants in 2007 and 2006, respectively.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  February 5, 2009; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2009  
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It's been really great since Maryland banned smoking in the public places. Before the ban, after going out to a bar, the next day my lungs and throat were sore.
Non smoking Virginians will really appreciate it. The non smoking women will start going to bars again and we know they are a lot cleaner people than the smokers. Like kissing an ashtray.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | February 5, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The real issue is ANTI-SMOKER SCIENTIFIC FRAUD, not "freedom versus health." More than 50 studies show that human papillomaviruses cause over ten times more lung cancers than they pretend are caused by secondhand smoke. Passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus, so the anti-smokers' studies, which are all based on nothing but lifestyle questionnaires, have been cynically DESIGNED to falsely blame passive smoking for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV.

The anti-smokers have committed the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on smoking and passive smoking, as well as ignoring other types of evidence that proves they are lying, such as the fact that the death rates from asthma have more than doubled since their movement began.

And it's a lie that passive smoking causes heart disease. AMI deaths in Pueblo actually ROSE the year after the smoking ban.

The government has no right to restrict peoples' liberty without a compelling justification. The anti-smokers have no such justification, so THEY COMMITTED SCIENTIFIC FRAUD TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC.

Posted by: CarolT1 | February 6, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

And Philip Morris has never been anything but an anti-smoker/CIA dirty trick. J. Russell Forgan, who wrote the act that created the CIA, was instrumental in financing it since the 1930s. And the stepson of the head of the American Cancer Society (who started the anti-smoking persecution in the 1940s) was on its board of directors for 20 years.

Just like in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-smokers control both sides.

Posted by: CarolT1 | February 6, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line is that smoking stinks and I don't want to smell it when I'm eating out. Whether studies are considered skewed or not, 80% of the population are non-smokers and we frankly don't want to be exposed to it. Maryland saw a substantial increase in business when they went non-smoking. The facts are in the numbers. I'm not one to deny anyone their right to smoke, I just don't want it around me.

I feel this is a day for celebration for all non-smoking Virginians because it shows that the people have a larger voice than Big Tobacco, which I never thought would happen in the state of Virginia.

Posted by: eyzoblue | February 9, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

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