Sunday, March 1, 2009

Virginia's Smoking Ban is Passed

As a follow-up to my February 5 post, the General Assembly passed an amendment to the Code of Virginia which prohibits smoking in all restaurants in the state. The law will take effect on December 1, 2009 and the sanction for violating the law is a civil fine of $25.

There is an exception that allows smoking in rooms that (1) are separately ventilated from the rest of the restaurant and (2) are separated from the rest of the restaurant by a door.

The legislation adds new language to Title 15.2 ("Counties, Cities, and Towns") of the Code, at 15.2-2820 through 15.2-2833. The operative language is as follows

Effective December 1, 2009, smoking shall be prohibited and no person shall smoke in any restaurant in the Commonwealth or in any restroom within such restaurant, except that smoking may be permitted in:
  1. Any place or operation that prepares or stores food for distribution to persons of the same business operation or of a related business operation for service to the public. Examples of such places or operations include the preparation or storage of food for catering services, pushcart operations, hotdog stands, and other mobile points of service.
  2. Any outdoor area of a restaurant, with or without roof covering ....
  3. Any restaurants located on the premises of any manufacturer of tobacco products.
  4. Any portion of a restaurant that is used exclusively for private functions, provided such functions are limited to those portions of the restaurant that meet the requirements of subdivision 5.
  5. Any portion of a restaurant that is constructed in such a manner that the area where smoking may be permitted is (i) structurally separated from the portion of the restaurant in which smoking is prohibited and to which ingress and egress is through a door and (ii) separately vented to prevent the recirculation of air from such area to the area of the restaurant where smoking is prohibited ....
  6. Any private club.

The press is heralding the new law as a significant achievement for Governor Kaine; he had tried unsuccessfully for similar legislation in 2007 and 2008.

Certain interest groups on both sides of the smoking-regulation debate (ie, Phillip Morris (on one hand) and certain anti-smoking advocates (on the other)) expressed dissatisfaction with the law.