Smoking banned in Virginia restaurants

This just in from Tim Kaine’s official site: 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 […]

This just in from Tim Kaine’s official site:

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.

I’m sure you all have LOTS of opinions on this one. Have at it!

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. I’m actually a social smoker when I go to the bar, but I think this is great. Whenever I’ve gone to other states, I’ve found it refreshing not to have to deal with the ever-lingering tobacco funk everywhere.

  2. YES!

  3. I love me some Bali Shag, but a smoking section in a restaurant is like a peeing section in a pool. I think this is probably a step in the right direction, annoying as it may be until we get used to it. Especially in Richmond. I swear, regardless of what those VCU posters in every classroom say, it seems like the majority of kids here smoke.

  4. w00t! My wife, my unborn child, and I thank the “powers that be”.

  5. I lived in New York when they passed the bill there. I lived in Pennsylvania went non-smoking. And now Virginia. It’s at trend that seems to be following me.

    I’m all for bars going non-smoking…when it’s the bar or restaurant’s decision. However, when the state mandates it’s, it feels like government is quickly becoming a parent.

    I really wish states would consider something more progressive, like offering tax incentives (large ones at that) to establishments that decide to go non-smoking.

  6. Good to know even in times of financial crisis, government can further infiltrate our lives.

  7. Parker on said:

    I’ve been waiting for this moment for some time now! Oh joyous day!

  8. I’m excited about this. The smokiness of a number of places in Richmond has kept me away or kept me from enjoying them. Looking forward to that not being the case anymore.

  9. this is great! it’s been a long time coming

  10. I think the 1st place I will welcome this change is the Bowling Alley. and Mulligans on the southside. For some reason Mulligans in the fan is not that smokey. and Benny’s BBQ off of Forest Hill. How about you??

  11. Awww, bummer, guess I’ll have to find someplace else to set myself on fire. :P

  12. I still fully believe that VA needs to legally distinguish between a bar and restaurant. Under ABC law, a bar is a restaurant (non-alcohol sales must comprise over 50+% of all revenues if one is dispensing alcohol). Most places would go on as restaurants and would obey the no-smoking law but this would allow some entities (ie racine, mars bar, poe’s, etc.) to serve as the smokey dives they are intended to be. God, just let us have bars already, Virginia.

  13. booooo. cigs rule.

  14. I quit smoking a few months ago, so I think this is pretty good. The only time I ever wanted to smoke while quitting was when I was out at a bar, so this will be helpful to others in transition. Too bad this has to be a law and not a choice by the restaurants/ bars themselves. It will be nice to not have a stinky jacket after I leave though

  15. Parker on said:

    I wonder how many emergency phone calls and meetings are happening at Phillip Morris. They are probably getting their hit men ready.

  16. Lauren on said:

    This is awesome! I always get bummed when I try a new place and am engulfed in nasty cigarette smoke. I know for some, social smoking is the norm, but for those of us who enjoy their lives and don’t want to die early, we thank you Governor Timothy M. Kaine and key leaders in the General Assembly for keeping our lungs safe!

  17. Finally!

    For those who are poo-pooing this as government infiltration/trampling of your rights, zip it. Your nasty habit infiltrates an evening out, socializing with friends, shooting pool, etc.

    This is a step in the right direction and will only hurt for a few months. I’ve lived in NY, San Francisco and other cities that went smoke free and business improved after the ban.

  18. K, I totally agree.

    I wonder if people would be less angry about it if restaurants with outdoor eating facilities could allow smoking out there? That doesn’t really help in the dead of winter, but it was just a thought. I personally don’t mind being around cigarette smoke if it’s outside and I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a room with it. That said, I’ve yet to go to a smoke-filled restaurant with my infant. I might feel differently once that happens. But I guess now it won’t?

  19. UPDATE:
    The bill was passed by the House of Delegates General Laws Committee this evening by a 16-6 vote. Now it will go to the full House. Not to be confused with Full House. Because it would pass without question there – Danny Tanner, that germaphobe!

    Another tidbit: violators of the smoking ban will not be fined more than $25 per offense.

  20. It takes just one smoker to ruin an atmosphere for 10 non-smokers, that’s why this needs legislation. Restaurants are never going to exclude anybody voluntarily, especially when the economy is so bad. By enacting this for the whole state no individual restaurant will suffer, the entire state has to adjust.

  21. Coheed on said:

    I bet those supposed 1700 yearly deaths are probably kids/old people who are around it constantly and for extremely long periods of time wherever they live. A little smoke at a bar is not going to kill you. Quit being pussies. D:

  22. Scott Burger on said:

    Keep the Promise, President Obama
    — Stop the Medical Marijuana Raids

  23. Robin on said:

    I used to be a smoker. I do occasionally light up with an adult beverage. I used to live in New York. Let me tell you how much i missed sitting down at bar with that drinky/smoky. Not to mention, I’d rather not have to pound my drink before going outside, or leave my drink unattended to do so (Ladies, I’m talking to you). And being made to go outside in the butt-ice-cold-freezing really sucked.

    “well, you could not smoke.” Yeah. You could examine your behavior as well. You could not sneer at your hostess about wanting a table a “far away from smoking as possible.” You could teach your children to place their orders in the form of a question, and not a demand. You could also not have your rugrats running around the restaurant – screaming and throwing their cheerios and crackers everywhere that your server is going to have to clean up. But I’m not going to come to you and preach to you about your life and how to parent your children. Please don’t tell me how to live mine.

    i don’t relish smelling like that ashtray on the nights I choose to smoke or choose not to smoke. But I think that’s MY choice to make once the proprietor has made the choice whether to make their establishment non-smoking or not. Perhaps I’ve had a rough day, and just want to go out, and sit and have a beer and a quick (and perfectly legal) smoke, without having to be shunned.

    Rant over – I’m gonna go grab a smoke.

  24. Sirah on said:

    You couldn’t be more off-topic, Scotty.

  25. It was so nice when I went to Cleveland recently and realized that there wasn’t going to be smoking in the bars. We were going out with a couple of smokers, like how every group of adult friends I’ve ever had has smokers in it, meaning that if the smoking ban was voluntary, we would only have gone to the smoke-friendly bars. Thankfully there were none to be had so we could go to any bar at all.

  26. Jeff E. on said:

    Sweet. Now when I leave Mars Bar I’ll only smell like deep fried food. Seriously though I think this is on overall positive however I do wonder how this affects places like Tobacco Company and Havana 59 where many folks visit just to have a cigar… and what about the hookah bars?

  27. I’m conflicted on this. On the one hand, I think a business should decided if they want to be smoke-free. If customers don’t like that they allow smoking, they won’t patronize it. Governments should stay out of a business’ business. On the other hand, however, as a nonsmoker I detest going to smokey bars and restaurants. I hate coming home and having to take a shower because my hair reeks. I hate having to wash my clothes immediately. I also hate how it burns my contacts. And now my husband and I won’t have to avoid eating out at certain places with our child because they are too smokey! (Sports Page on the SOuthside is a prime example.)

    So, if it really does pass, you won’t hear complaining all that much.

  28. Now if only they would pass a law banning people from smoking in their cars if there are children in the car, too. I support this 100%!

  29. This day is better than Christmas. Finally I can stumble out of a bar around 2am and not smell like disgusting cigarette. Thank you Tim Kaine, thank you so much.

  30. daniel on said:

    I long for the day I wake up after going out only feeling hung-over. No smelly clothes or hair, no coughing, no phlegm, no loss of voice. /cheer

  31. I understand those of you who feel like your freedom to light up a legal cig in being infringed upon by big bad government. But let’s go back and think…why is this being brought up? It’s not just a smell’s a health risk. It makes ME less healthy just by being in an environment where someone else is choosing to smoke. Prior to this passing, I had no choice whether or not I wanted to be subjected to secondhand smoke…and I think I should be in control of my own well-being. I know it sucks to go outside and freeze and lose your good bar spot just to have a cigarette… I really do…but my lungs thank you.

  32. As someone born in critical condition due to his mother’s smoking, and who grew up bouncing between pneumonia and bronchitis until he moved out from his smoking parents, I support this move. Virginia is finally catching up to the rest of the country.

    Thing is, it’s the kids who tend to smoke up the bars. Eating at places like Sticky Rice is hampered by all the smoke. When Douchie Douchebag from “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” came to Richmond, both Dots Back Inn and The Village appeared clean. Why? No smokers. Both have decent food (don’t know why anyone would dare eat at the Sports Page, yeech) but you can’t taste when you can’t breathe.

    Smokers: Enjoy your habit. It’s legal. I’m not telling you to stop smoking. But please, do I force a half of a French fry down your throat when I’m eating? Do I pour a beer over your head for every pitcher I’m drinking? If you must do it, go outside, because it does affect those around you; eating food and drinking only makes ME fat and drunk.

    I hope this passes into law. Soon.

  33. “Yes. Now I can FINALLY destroy my body in peace. THANK GOD there won’t be any NASTY SMOKERS around as I slowly murder myself with fatty food and alcohol.”

  34. Roland on said:

    It’s amazing how few restaurants have gone non-smoking on their own. Why any business owner would allow the taste of their customer’s food and drink to be ruined by cigarette smoke is beyond me. Even after the ban, I’ll continue to support places that banned smoking before they were legally required to do so.

  35. Tom, I’m guessing you’ve never actually been to the Sports Page near 60/288 if you’re implying that the food is worse than The Village. That’s totally laughable.

  36. Robin on said:

    while we’re trying to give business no say in things – when’s the statewide ban on trans fat going to come our way?

    (though I must say, my bod can tell the difference on that one from NYC already.)

  37. I actually might GO to a bar if this passes. I can’t stand having to wash everything I’ve worn to get all the smokey crud off me. it’s just gross.

  38. Liberty on said:

    The pivate owners of the eating establishments should decide how to handle the problem. Customers should freely choose what restaurants to visit. Why the govt. has decided to intervene in this minor issue is pathetic. What will the govt. make private business owners do next?

  39. “It’s amazing how few restaurants have gone non-smoking on their own. Why any business owner would allow the taste of their customer’s food and drink to be ruined by cigarette smoke is beyond me.”

    I imagine it has something to do with the fact that banning smoking in your bar chases out all the smokers and all of their friends, not just the smokers themselves. The fact that this HASN’T happened after so much time makes me think that it’s probably reasonable for the government to go ahead and step in. Particularly since restaurants and bars are workplaces, and as a bartender you pretty much have to be exposed to hours and hours of secondhand smoke each week.

  40. Robin on said:

    Why would you want to chase out a group of people who increase your alcohol sales (smokers tend to drink more) and are anecdotally lower maintenance and better tippers? It’s no wonder businesses chose not to go all non-smoking after so much time. They probably felt it was a better business decision, and a better money-making opportunity for their staff.

    Speaking for staff, I’ve known many a server who have asked to not work in a smoking section because of the second-hand smoke, and Mgmt has had no problem switching them out with someone else. As far as working in a bar – you know what you sign up for when you go in. You make the choice. You may choose to work in a bar that has chosen to be a non-smoking establishment. Each place is individual. The government does not need to step in on this one.

  41. HOORAY! I might actually go out to eat and to bars now. I HATE the smell of cigarette smoke.

  42. Liberty on said:

    @justin-so what if its a workplace, nobodies forcing them to work there, if they dont like working in a smoking enviroment , GO WORK SOMEWHERE ELSE, Freedom is what America is. All you govt. lovin commies are idiots

  43. Casey on said:

    Hey, I have an idea, let’s ban alcohol too. I wonder how many lives have been taken passively (innocent lives) have been taken by alcohol. I mean think about it–binge drinking and overdose, drunk driving, and resulting trauma, and of course the emotional aspects of alcohol addiction on the family. Definitely, alcohol has to go. Oh wait, we did that already, it was called prohibition and it failed miserably. What is that about those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it….sooprise sooprise sooprise.

    If you don’t like smoke in bars, don’t go to them. Oh you don’t like that, well why do non smokers have more rights than smokers? You can’t make people be healthy. In the scheme of things, smoking itself is not necessarily fatal. Other things must be considered such as genetics, social and environmental aspects and physical health status. No, I do not work for Phillip Morris. I actually work in health. But, I have a brain that allows me to think critically. Ultimately, what we do not need is more government control over our personal choices.

    Let the businesses decide. If they choose to go smoke free, then the smoker can decide to visit there or not. Just as if the establishment allows smoking, the non-smoker can decide to go there or not. That is what makes our country our country. That we all have the same rights and access to rights. Otherwise, the government is deciding that some citizens have more rights than others- sounds kinda hitleresque if you ask me. Boo, Tim Kaine, not your finest hour.

    Oh here is some more to chew on….
    While we are at it, maybe we should ban cars: pollution, effects of oil on the environment, car collisions with permanent disfigurement, disability or property damage and even death, noise pollution from all the loud music, and exhaust, hearing loss due to loud music,as well as the associated to those whose job requires long periods of driving.- Definitely must do away with all cars, trucks, vans, suvs, etc, etc, etc.

    And some history: For over 400 years, since the establishment of Jamestown, tobacco has been a major staple to our economy. The government has richly taxed over and over and reaped the rewards of supply and demand of tobacco and thus our state benefitted as well as many others. After all, at one time tobacco was used as currency. Yeah, it’s the smokers fault, or Phillips Morris’ fault– sounds like the government had a major hand in all this to begin with. Let’s remember that.

    How about lawsuits, let’s not sue Phillip Morris, let’s sue the farmers, and the suppliers of fertilizer instead. I mean the company couldn’t sell it if they didn’t grow it, and it wouldn’t grow without fertilizer. Maybe we could sue God for the sun and rain that help the crops grow and cause the non-smokers such heartache being cruelly subjected to such conditions. I think we need a firing squad and just kill all the smokers – that’ll fix em–they are gonna die anyway right?

    GET A GRIP! We are headed for severe economic difficulties. We have many more important issues to tackle such as treatment of those who served our country, and poverty and child abuse, and substance abuse and it’s far reaching effects, failing education that is only getting worse, the healthcare issues, and so much more. I am not a smoker. I have children, and I don’t want them to smoke, but you cannot legislate choices. Education is the key, opportunities are the key, resources are the key. Stop wasting my taxpayer dollars on such stupid legislation.

  44. Michael on said:

    Casey, the history of tobacco in Virginia has absolutely nothing to do with is. Your comparison is like saying that since we’ve used asbestos as an insulator for years we should just keep on using it, scientific data showing that it’s harmful notwithstanding. Maybe we can put lead back in paint or take catalytic converters off of cars. Seriously, this is about freedom to you? Non-smokers right to no inhale cigarette smoke should be trumped by the smoker’s right to smoke indoors? Ostensibly most smokers cannot smoke inside while they are at work, so carrying their asses outside to smoke is a big deal?

  45. Liberty on said:

    @michael-things in the kitchen burn while preparing food, do you need to be protected from that? why dont people wear platic suits with oxygen tanks so they can be protected by anything that smokes, especially auto exhaust.

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