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Smoking Ban in Virginia (Thursday, April 2, 2009)

Back in March, Governor Tim Kaine signed the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act into law. This is a really big deal, because the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate have many evil members who were doing their best to amend the legislation to provide exceptions that would basically render the act useless. Fortunately, after reviewing the final text that was actually signed into law, I found none of the particularly horrifying exceptions made it through. That means, effective December 1, 2009, there really will be a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Virginia.

It's quite unfortunate that neither of my representatives, Delegate Tim Hugo, and Senator Ken Cuccinelli, supported the bill. Apparently, they would prefer to support the tobacco industry (which needs to go away), the bar industry (which imagines a negative impact that won't exist), and the health care industry which profits by the illness of our citizens. As a cancer survivor, I can't imagine why anyone would choose to put themselves in an environment that is clearly proven to cause cancer. Each smoking ban passed will decrease the harmful effect that tobacco has, and reduce the amount of money wasted each year treating smoking related illnesses.

As far as the "negative impact" that business owners worry about, our neighbors in DC and Maryland have already banned smoking, and if I wasn't so far west, I would certainly have taken all of my restaurant and bar business to those places. If places like DC and New York are any indication, no one is going to stay home because of a smoking ban, and there are many people like me, who wouldn't go out before, who will now be happy to visit a bar, support the local bands, and have a friendly drink. I can't wait!

—Brian (4/2/2009 7:26 PM)
(12 comments)

Comments

Although I do not believe the smoking ban will hurt businesses and I am not proud that I still occasionally give money to the tobacco industry, I do not think the government (local, state, or federal) should be able to tell a business owner what types of legal substances are allowed within the doors they own. If a customer does not want to inhale smoke do not go into a smoking business. Red Robins has being doing fine with their self-imposed smoking ban for years now, non-smokers love the place and smokers just don’t go there.

-- Ben (4/3/2009 8:35 AM)

The problem is, you can have a cigarette at home without hurting anyone, but if I want to have a draft beer and hear a band, a bar is the only choice -- and your smoke there hurts me. It's not that I don't want you to smoke (okay, Ben, I don't want YOU PERSONALLY to smoke, but I don't care about other people killing themselves in general), I just don't want to have to breathe it as part of my having a beer and seeing a band. Your right to smoke ends and my lungs -- it'd be the equivalent of me having a beer and then peeing in your hair... if everyone drinking around you was peeing in your hair, you'd probably call on a ban on drinking in public places, wouldn't you?

-- Brian (4/3/2009 12:10 PM)

I don't like smoke either. However, I say make Weed legal, and then tax the hell out of it, tobacco, and alcohol and lets fix this economy already!

-- Matt (4/3/2009 4:05 PM)

I agree with the health issues, but my position has nothing to do with health. Everyone knows smoke is bad...I do not like the Government sticking its hands in what is an ownership and property issue.

I absolutely agree with Matt, though. Let’s get some money from that wacky tobaccee!

-- Ben (4/3/2009 4:40 PM)

I don't smoke but if the net benefit of drinking at a certain bar outweighs the net cost of the second-hand smoke, I'll empty half a bottle of Baker's and enjoy myself there. But since I don't enjoy breathing in any extra toxins or raising my chances of being served a slice o' cancer, I'll always go to the bar(s) with either a non-smoking policy or an adequate non-smoking section. Nobody is forcing me to put myself in the position of inhaling some citizen's used Newports even its the only way to see Boogiehawg live. Either way, I'd rather have no choices and drink in the condo or at a house with friends than allow the government an INCH of extra control which it WILL use and take full advantage of in the future. I wouldn't go to a concert as I don't like the average decible level of a live performance though I may love the band and that may be the only way to see them play in person. I would have to settle for the iPod or car stereo unless or until they played in a quieter venue. Granted, its difficult to oppose what seems like such a common sense idea but the devil is in the details. Personally I will NOT miss the nicotine death traps that most bars in VA offer, but I WILL miss the freedom that was taken away as a result of such a ban being passed. Keep in mind though, this is just one black man's opinion.

-- The Man (4/3/2009 8:52 PM)

On the other hand... smoking is a health and safety issue... do you think that the government should stay out of health and safety completely, and let restaurants do whatever they want, with no oversight? If you think it's okay for them to make sure they aren't dropping your meat on the floor, then it's hypocritical to say that smoking isn't a health issue that should be regulated the same way. If you really don't think there should be any regulation, then... well, you're so far to the right that you're not going to find any common ground.

One other thing to note - private clubs are EXCLUDED from these regulations. So if you are so concerned about your private property rights, then you can have a private, members only club, and do whatever you want. I think that is a pretty good compromise!

-- Brian (4/5/2009 5:35 PM)

Why is it always the all or nothing extremes when debating liberals? My point is that you are choosing to put yourself in an enviornment that is almost exclusively DESIGNED for smokers and drinkers. There is no health and safety issue because you don't HAVE to go to Ned Devines (though why would you want to?) or Shade Tree. You don't HAVE to see your band play a concert but you WANT to so you have to either hope they play an outdoor venue or put up with the second hand smoke death trap at Fat Tuesdays. Children and the non-smoking public are not in danger because they do not need to be in a bar. But using the government to ban anything that somebody doesn't like or agree with (especially in a PRIVATE business, and I'd love to know just how much more regulation and expense is involved for a bar to be recognized as a "private club" by Virginia law) when that person or persons can live the rest of their life having never gone into Copeland's is an abuse of "authority" no matter how bad the subject may be. This is the same exact tactic used by people who want to ban abortion, porn, trans fats, bacon dogs, cell phones, iPods, guns, SUVs, Mustangs (yes Mustangs), etc. There is always a supposed "good reason" to regulate or ban a substance which is why an argument can be made. But I said nothing in my previous entry about having no rules or regulations of any kind. But having spent the last 7 years in the banking industry, I can tell you that government regulation does more harm than good in damaging a business or market. The claims that Bush de-regulated the financial sector is absolute bullshit but that argument is only made because the general public knows nothing about the industry and the politicians who want ever more control can use that ignorance to push for more "regulation" (i.e. control). My ideas are always dismissed by liberals because they cannot imagine the government NOT regulating something in favor letting the market set the rules. This is because such a course of action has never been given a chance as why would the government give up an ounce of power (did anyone actually think Obama would "roll back" any of the power that Bush/Cheney gave themselves and the office of the President?)

Again, it is difficult for me to defend a practice that is one of the leading causes of cancer and death. But this isn't about smoking. This is about choice vs. control as most government issues are. Why would I fly on Delta Airlines, for example, who allowed smoking on their flight when I could fly Southwest who had a self-imposed smoking ban? I could go on as most of us Chinese immigrants tend to do, but you get the point. And again, I understand the case for a smoking ban and I only fear that it sets a precedent that can be used in the future to a worse effect. Like passing the Patriot Act led to FISA and all kinds of shit you don't want to even know about.

And also know that I make this argument in the fluffiest possible way. I'm not banging on the keyboard with both fists, I simply disagree....though I would like to see a female & foreign driver ban.

-- The Man (4/7/2009 1:41 AM)

I've read many arguments from both sides on the smoking ban in Virginia restaurants and bars. My biggest argument with supporting this ban is the fact that restaurant owners are responsible for serving food and beverages that meet government standards. Government checks the cleanliness and safety of food preparation and storage. I wouldn't want to go into a restaurant that hasn't passed certain government standards. Restaurants that do not meet certain standards are closed down. I feel that the air we breathe falls into that same category. Restaurants are responsible for not only the safety of our food, but also the air that we breathe. Government has been involved in food and sanitary checks forever, and they should be. I'm so happy that the government has finally stepped in and supported 80% of the population of non-smokers.

-- Shirley (5/2/2009 9:53 AM)

Okay. Here's the real deal.

Smokers are, in general, the most inconsiderate people you will ever meet.

They are arrogant drug addicts who 'proudly' throw their filthy diseased trash (butts) into the streets, gutters, and my front lawn.

Where there is smoking, you will *always* find higher rates of crime, child abuse, and violence.

As do all Americans, smokers have the right to die. They just don't have the right to take me with them.

In Virginia, so say we all!

-- Sam Carstairs (6/21/2009 4:10 PM)

Comment removed — Stinky Girl (Name redacted on request — Brian), we don't attack individuals on my site. People are entitled to their opinions, even when (you think) they're wrong. Thanks. — Brian

-- Jazzy (6/30/2009 7:35 PM)

So, "attacking individuals" is not allowed, but generalizing and insulting an entire segment of the public with nasty and ignorant statements is just fine.

Comment... edited. Yes, making ignorant generalizations is okay, because they're generalizations. Attacking an individual by name is not allowed. My site. My rules. — Brian

-- Jason (7/1/2009 4:23 PM)

Let's try this again...

I'm all for the smoking ban (shocking I know) and I enjoyed reading both sides of the argument on this site. That is until an entire segment of the population was attacked by ignorance. I hate it when that happens - don't you!?

So back to the ban - I was on the fence about it but now I'm all for it. Restricting smoking to "private bars" or a separate ventilated area is a good compromise. I see kids in restaurants - taking in smoke - simply because the restaurant's bar is within an arm's reach of the non-smoking section. Makes no sense to me.

-- Jazzy (7/1/2009 4:41 PM)

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