The smoking ban announced by Governor Kaine’s office back in February officially has officially gone into effect. That’s right, folks. As of today, smoking in Virginia restaurants will be a thing of the past. Well, sort of.
Editor’s note: If you’re looking for Richmond restaurants with smoking accommodations, we’ve set up a search function on our Eats directory highlighting those establishments. It’s in development stages at this point, but we expect it to grow as the ban’s start date gets closer. If you’re aware of restaurants taking steps to provide space for their smoking customers, let us know and we’ll add them to the list.
The smoking ban announced by Governor Kaine’s office back in February has officially gone into effect. That’s right, folks. As of today, smoking in Virginia restaurants will be a thing of the past. Well, sort of.
For those of you who who enjoy the social cig or two (or more), a few restaurants around town have made arrangements so patrons can (legally) light up, should they so desire. But more on that in a second. First, let’s go over some basics of the new law.
The focus of this ban is to prohibit smoking in restaurants that are open to the public. There are, however, a few exceptions. The ban does not apply to:
- Private clubs (obviously, as they are not public by definition)
- Operations that prepare food for catering services, pushcarts, hotdog stands, or other mobile points of service
- Outdoor areas of a restaurant (with or without a roof covering) as long the outdoor area is not enclosed by any screened wall, roll-up doors, or other temporary enclosures. However, if the outdoor area is enclosed, smoking is permitted if the enclosed smoking area is structurally separate from the non-smoking areas of the restaurant and is vented.
- Any restaurant located on the premises of any manufacturer of tobacco products
- Any portion of a restaurant that is constructed in a manner that the area where smoking is permitted is structurally separated from the non-smoking areas of the restaurant and separately. At least one public entrance must be into an area where smoking is not permitted.
The Republic has pushed their smoking accommodations to the forefront of their marketing during this opening week, touting “smoking and non-smoking bars” all over their website. Meanwhile, Rachel Grove, marketing director of The Tobacco Company highlighted the restaurant’s mission to still cater to the smoking customer while acting in accordance with the ban’s restrictions.
“The Tobacco Company Restaurant is going to do everything possible to make smoking comfortable for our patrons but remain in compliance with the upcoming anti smoking legislation,” stated Grove in an e-mail. “We will still permit smoking in The Tobacco Company Club as this room has a separate entrance and a separate ventilation system.”
As temperatures start to drop, The Tobacco Company is also thinking ahead when it comes to the comfort of their smoking customers.
“For our dining and lounge guests, we are having heaters installed outside of our side entrance on the first floor to ensure these customers stay warm,” stated Grove.
What remains to be seen is to what extent restaurants will adhere to the new smoking ban. Currently, failure to comply results in a $25 fine – no other recourse will be taken. In an article published on NBC12.com last week, Virginia Department of Health representative Gary Hagy was quoted as saying, “If you are not in compliance, we cannot put your permit in jeopardy. We cannot threaten to take your permit.”
Of course, the hope (and the expectation of the Health Department) is that restaurants are going to fall in line with the ban’s stipulations, providing outdoor space and/or those separate rooms for smokers, should their clientele demand it.