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News Summary

Va. House Approves Ban on Smoking

Publication Date: 2/10/2009
  • Author:Anita Kumar
  • Publication:The Washington Post

The Virginia House of Delegates approved a plan for a ban on smoking covering most of the state's restaurants and many of its bars Monday, marking a significant political and cultural shift for a state whose history has been intertwined with tobacco for centuries.

Virginia has repeatedly resisted efforts to curtail smoking in public places, even as health concerns over secondhand smoke prompted 23 other states and the District to start enacting prohibitions...

Monday's action did not come easily; the House weakened the original proposal during its debate. Neither the anti-smoking movement nor the tobacco industry was thrilled with the compromise plan brokered by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). Their proposal permitted smoking in private clubs and in establishments that constructed separately ventilated enclosed smoking rooms for patrons.

Amendments would permit smoking in rooms separated by doors, even if there is no separate ventilation system. They carved out exceptions for smoking in outdoor patio areas; at restaurants during private functions when the function takes up the entire restaurant; and at clubs or bars at times when under-age patrons are not admitted.