Kaine pushes again for statewide smoking ban

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by Jessica Sabbath

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine plans to push again for a statewide smoking ban in restaurants in the General Assembly this year, but will face strong opposition from the state’s tobacco lobby and regions.

“The scientific evidence about the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke is clear and convincing,” Kaine said in a statement. “Recognizing the negative health effects and high public costs of secondhand smoke, Virginia must act to protect the workers and consumers in its restaurants.”

Kaine’s plan would ban smoking in all businesses that serve food, private clubs. The ban would not affect outdoor seating areas of restaurants, unless they can be enclosed.

The governor pushed for a similar plan last year, but it failed in the General Assembly. The bill faces opposition from the state’s powerful tobacco lobby and some restaurant owners who want the choice whether to go smoke free or not.

A host of smoking bills are expected to be considered by lawmakers this year. Some localities are planning to ask the state for permission to ban smoking in restaurants within their localities.

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