Protect Local Control

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News Summary

Norfolk again tackles a smoking ban in restaurants and bars

Publication Date: 8/1/2007
  • Author:DEBBIE MESSINA
  • Publication:The Virginian-Pilot

City officials are pushing forward with their effort to ban smoking in restaurants and bars despite a recent opinion from the state attorney general that says localities cannot do so.

Officials plan to meet with restaurant and bar owners this month to get feedback.

"We feel nothing's changed legally," said Councilwoman Theresa Whibley, a physician who proposed the ban. "This is something we need to do. It's important for our citizens."

Attorney General Bob McDonnell wrote that a locality may not impose restrictions on smoking that are more stringent than the Virginia Clean Indoor Air Act, which permits smoking. His advisory opinion, dated July 10, was in response to an inquiry from state Del. Bill Janis, R-Goochland County.

But Norfolk City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko said Norfolk is not relying on the act but rather the city charter, which he said permits smoking restrictions in two sections.

One is through police powers ensuring the health and safety of citizens, which Pishko said has enabled localities in other states to ban smoking.