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News Summary

Smoking ban is all but snuffed out

Publication Date: 2007-06-19
  • Author:Editorial
  • Publication:The Roanoke Times
Secondhand smoke kills. It's time lawmakers act to protect the public.

Maybe House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith is right: Eventually the marketplace will respond to customers' demands and voluntarily ban smoking from their restaurants...

Under the Griffith plan, the commonwealth's obligation to protect the public's health is secondary to protecting a business's right to do what is best for the bottom line.

This allows lawmakers to cede public health issues to the marketplace even if the majority of Virginians would prefer a smoking ban.

After Roanoke Sen. Brandon Bell's loss in the Republican primary last week, it is even less likely that a smoking ban will prevail.

Smoke-free advocates will need to find another lawmaker willing to buck the influence of the tobacco lobby and one who possesses the tenacity to take on Griffith's House of Delegates. Griffith declared that anti-smoking bills "will never get out of committee."

Unfortunately, Griffith holds the power to snuff out legislation despite overwhelming evidence that secondhand smoke sickens and kills people and that an overwhelming number of Virginians prefer smoke-free environments. So much for representative democracy.

Even if Gov. Tim Kaine finds a senator or delegate to take up Bell's quest, unless a majority of delegates vote against Griffith, it will fail.