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News Summary

Health Chief Promises 'Common-Sense' Rules

Publication Date: 4/3/2007
  • Author:Tim Craig
  • Publication:Washington Post

Virginia's health commissioner said Monday that if the General Assembly votes this week to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, he will appoint a task force to develop "a common-sense definition" for eating establishments that would be covered.

Robert B. Stroube, the commissioner, was responding to concerns raised last week by some lawmakers that the restaurant ban proposed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is too broad.

Robert Stroube says the ban would not apply to certain events.

At a news conference, Stroube said the Virginia State Board of Health will work with the restaurant industry and health advocates to develop regulations so that the proposed ban does not apply to venues such as catered weddings, outdoor events and stadiums.

"We will define what is a restaurant and then go through the administrative process and enact the regulations," Stroube said. The news conference was organized by supporters of a restaurant smoking ban.

Critics of Kaine's proposal, including Republican leaders and the hospitality industry, contended that it fails to make an exception for catering services, pushcarts and hot dog stands. That means smoking could be banned at weddings, county fairs and sporting events, they said.