Friday, November 27, 2009

Smoking Ban

Download audio version here
by Mark Craig and Laura Peters

Starting Dec. 1, smoking will be banned in many of the state's bars and restaurants, though it will be permitted in private clubs, on some outdoor patios and in separate ventilated rooms.

The smoking ban, issued by Governor Tim Kaine takes effect December 1st. The ban will end smoking in many of the state's bars and restaurants, with exception to private clubs, outdoor patios and separate, ventilated rooms.

The ban does leave some establishments as an exception to the rule. Outdoor operations such as mobile food stands and permanently enclosed outdoor areas of restaurants will be exempt. Smoking in private or separate, ventilated areas of restaurants allotted for smoking and events will be allowed. Authorization of these spaces to be smoking will include the separation of each area from at least one entrance and non-smoking areas.

Establishments with only one entrance where outdoor smoking is available will be grandfathered in the legislation. Smoke free entrances are required of any new business December 1, 2009. The ban permits restaurants located on the premises of tobacco product manufacturers.

Enforcement of the new ban will be determined by the local health department through routine inspections. Compliance of the law requires the posting of no smoking signs, the removal of ashtrays in non-smoking areas and abiding by the requirements of separate smoking areas. Modifications for businesses such as a bowling alley or bingo hall will have to comply with the new law to allow smoking.

Hookah lounges and cigar bars are also affected. A smoker-oriented facility has to abide by the new regulations or serve packaged foods and bottled or canned drinks to operate.

November 30th will be the last day before the ban comes into effect. Some businesses are holding a come-one-come all celebration, while others are operating as usual.

In 2006, Governor Kaine issued an executive order eliminating smoking in all state buildings. On March 9th, 2009, Governor Kaine signed legislation to ban smoking from nearly all Virginia restaurants.

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