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New smoking ban proposed

Publication Date: 2007-08-22
  • Publication:Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch

Kaine, health officials to seek restrictions at indoor eateries, clearing the air on bill language

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine wants to put a restaurant smoking ban back on the agenda when the General Assembly convenes next year.

First, though, he needs to know how exactly to define a restaurant, a surprisingly tricky issue that helped sink a proposed smoking ban during the last General Assembly session.

Now, state health officials, directed by Kaine to look into the matter, are suggesting changing the state code to define a restaurant as an indoor area of a building or structure where food is prepared, served and consumed...

The Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, a trade group including restaurants and hotels, opposes a state-imposed smoking ban, said Tom Lisk, a lobbyist for the group.

"Our members are overwhelmingly of the view that the system already in place -- a voluntary system -- is working," Lisk told health officials at yesterday's meeting...

Cathleen Smith Grzesiek, director of advocacy for the American Heart Association's Virginia chapter, said public-health groups that lobbied for the smoking ban are fine with limiting it to indoor areas only.

However, she said the language offered by the health department needs to be tweaked because it has a possible loophole that could enable restaurants to set up smoking-only areas.

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