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Legislators Targeted On Smoking Ban

Anita Kumar

Americans for Prosperity, a group that supports limited government and free trade, has hired a company to make tens of thousands of phone calls to the offices of a dozen legislators to pressure them to vote against a smoking ban.

Targeted legislators include Republicans and Democrats who may be considering voting for a smoking ban this year because it is being supported by Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

"Our members are upset that the Speaker has chosen to trust big government to solve our problems instead of consumers," said Ben Marchi, the group's state director. "This is a consumer rights issue. This is the government telling consumers they aren't smart enough to decide for themselves where to patron."

Kaine and Howell announced a deal this morning to ban smoking in restaurants and bars in Virginia. Smoking will be allowed in private clubs but public establishments can construct enclosed, ventilated smoking rooms for patrons.

The House General Laws Committee voted for the bill tonight 16 to 6 after opponents tried to dramatically change the proposal. The bill is expected to be debated by the full House on Monday.

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) said Howell, who controls prized committee assignments, has told Republican delegates they can vote freely, without fear of retribution.

By Anita Kumar  |  February 5, 2009; 9:55 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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