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Virginia agency seeks to make banning smoking easier

Publication Date: 2007-08-23
  • Author:Joe Rogalsky
  • Publication:The Examiner Richmond

Virginia health officials are implementing new regulations designed to ignite efforts to ban smoking in restaurants.

Current state law lumps all food-serving establishments into one category, whether the operation is a steakhouse, a hot dog stand on the street corner or a snack bar at the local Little League field.

Opponents of legislation that sought to snuff out smoking in restaurants this year have argued that without any distinction in the Virginia Code, the proposal could force smokers walking by a street vendor to stamp out their cigarettes.

To solve that problem, Gov. Tim Kaine earlier this year ordered the state’s Department of Health to come up with regulations that differentiate between establishments. After several public hearings, agency officials decided to split food-serving operations into two groups.

Establishments such as street vendors would be in a category of operations that prepare and serve food. Restaurants and other establishments where food is prepared, served and consumed would be in another.

The distinction could, hypothetically, allow legislators to write a bill banning smoking in indoor areas of restaurants without affecting snack bars.

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