Gov. Kaine signs restaurant smoking ban into law
You won’t have to deal with secondhand smoke in Virginia bars and restaurants effective Dec. 1. Gov. Tim Kaine made it offiicial Monday with a ceremony at a bar on the strip in Virginia Beach signing into law legislation banning smoking in Virginia establishments outside of a narrow exception permitting smoking in private clubs and restaurants with designated smoking rooms that are physically separated and independently ventilated from nonsmoking dining areas.
“This reasonable and necessary public health measure has been one of my priorities for several years, and I appreciate the work of so many dedicated legislators and staffs, advocates and stakeholders, and members of my staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring it to fruition,” Kaine said at today’s ceremony at Croc’s 19th Street Bistro in Virginia Beach. “I am extremely proud to have been a part of the coalition that made this day a reality, and I am thrilled to place my signature on this monumental step forward for public health in Virginia,” Kaine said.
The legislation also offers protections for restaurant and bar employees, who cannot be required by business proprietors to work in any area of a restaurant or bar where smoking may be permitted.
“I applaud Gov. Kaine for signing the most significant smoking ban in any tobacco-producing state in the country,” said State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, who is one of the three candidates running for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination this year. “I am so proud that I was able to be part of this historic effort to make nearly all Virginia bars and restaurants smoke-free. Every Virginian has the right to breathe clean air and no worker should have to risk their health in order to earn a living,” Deeds said.
Democratic candidates Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran also backed the legislation, though presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell was critical of the measure earlier this year.
“When it comes to protecting the health of Virginians, the difference between Democrats and Bob McDonnell is like night and day,” Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Jared Leopold said. “All three Democratic candidates for Governor stood with Virginians in support of this common-sense legislation. But Bob McDonnell chose special interests over the health of Virginians.
“Now that the smoke has cleared, Virginians see the stark difference: All three Democratic candidates stood up for Virginia families, while Bob McDonnell stood in the way,” Leopold said.
– Story by Chris Graham