Smoke-free Virginia?

Whaddya think about being able to go into a restaurant and not having to deal with the contradiction in terms that is a no-smoking section?
“The scientific evidence about the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke remains clear and convincing,” said Gov. Tim Kaine, who announced yesterday his support for legislation that would ban smoking in restaurants, including dining establishments in public and private clubs.

“I am compelled by concern for the health and wellbeing of all Virginians, as well as recognition of the high public costs of secondhand smoke, to once again ask the members of the General Assembly to approve this necessary and reasonable legislation,” Kaine said.

The Virginia Department of Health estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for the deaths of 1,700 Virginians a year. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids projects that state taxpayers spend $113 million a year on health-care expenditures related to secondhand-smoke exposure.

The proposed legislation changes the definition in the state code of a restaurant to any food establishment – including dining establishments of public and private clubs – where food is available for sale and consumption by the public and includes the areas of a restaurant where food is prepared, served or consumed. The proposal excludes exterior dining areas of food establishments from the ban, unless the exterior area can be enclosed.

State Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, will patron the legislation in the Virginia General Assembly. “I am excited to be the patron of this bill and hope that we can work together to get this important law passed. During my years as a pediatric neurologist, I have seen firsthand the effects that secondhand smoke can have on children. This legislation is an important public-health measure,” Northam said.

 

– Staff Report


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