According to an article that I have just read in HamptonRoads.com entitled,”General Assembly passes partial smoking ban in restaurants” the Virginia General Assembly has voted 27-13 in favor of SB1105, a measure that bans smoking in most bars and restaurants in Virginia. From now on smoking will only be allowed in facilities that have separate smoking areas equipped with independent ventilation systems, establishments with open-air outdoor patios and private clubs.
This law will go into effect starting December 1, 2009. There is a provision in the bill that will allow bar and restaurant employees who so choose, to work outside designated smoking areas without being subject to professional punishment.
I applaud this move to help ensure the rights of those who do not smoke. Regardless of whether they are restaurant employees or patrons, non smokers should not be exposed to second hand smoke against their will. I also applaud the wording of SB21105 because it allows provisions for businesses that would still like to offer their customers the option to smoke. I know in some foreign countries, when a smoking ban law is passed, it applies across the board, not allowing restaurants, bars and clubs the option to have separate smoking sections or be exclusively for smokers.
A similar law SB1106, which would have made it illegal for people to smoke in a motor vehicle when a child is present and would have cost violators $100 in fines was not passed. I found this a bit strange. I wonder whether our legislators should be more concerned with the rights of those who cannot protect themselves (children) over those who can (adults). After all, an adult can choose to go to another restaurant or bar but a child cannot choose to not drive in their parent’s car. It will be interesting to see if SB1106 comes before the Assembly again in the future.
Please click to read this article in its entirety at HamptonRoads.com. This article also has a list of how all of our representatives voted on Sb1105