Focus | Kaine marks beginning of smoking ban
Three-year effort leads to statewide ban
Story by Chris Graham
With AFP Video
A multiyear effort that began with Gov. Tim Kaine signing in 2006 an executive order banning smoking in state buildings was realized today with the implementation of a statewide ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars.
Kaine said today in Staunton that the ban is “one of the strongest” in the country with impacts on patrons and employees at restaurants and bars across the Commonwealth.
“Virginia has become a leader nationally in our economic indicators, we’ve become a leader educationally, but frankly, in too many of our health indicators we’ve not been a leader, whether it’s in the way we treat mental health, whether it’s other issues, like infant mortality, obesity, smoking, we’ve not been a leader. So today is a big step forward for health,” Kaine said.
AFP Video: Gov. Tim Kaine talks about the smoking ban
Kaine crisscrossed the state to mark the implementation of the ban, which was approved by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year. The narrow exceptions to the ban allow smoking in private clubs and restaurants with designated smoking rooms that are structurally separate and separately vented from non-smoking dining rooms.
Many restaurants had already gone smoke-free in anticipation of the Dec. 1 implementation date.
Secondhand smoke is responsible for as many as 1,040 adult deaths per year in Virginia, according to the state health department. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates that the state spends $105.3 million a year on health care related to exposure to secondhand smoke.
Twenty-seven other states and the District of Columbia have also enacted similar smoking bans.