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News Summary

Deal puts smoking ban in restaurants on path to passage

Publication Date: 2/6/2009
  • Author:Julian Walker WarrenFiske
  • Publication:Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

A statewide ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars cleared a major legislative hurdle Thursday and appears likely to pass the General Assembly this winter.

The measure would outlaw smoking in all restaurants and bars with the exception of eateries that build enclosed areas with separate ventilation systems for smokers. Also exempt would be private clubs.

The bill was approved by a 16-to-6 vote in the House General Laws Committee, longtime cemetery for anti-smoking legislation, only hours after the bill was introduced.

The bill, HB1703, reflects a major compromise between Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat who for three years has called for an outright restaurant smoking ban to protect health, and Speaker William Howell, a Republican who had insisted that government allow restaurant owners to decide whether it is in their business interests to let patrons light up.