Below is information on the No-Smoking law in Virginia and legislative actions regarding it.
Information on tobacco sales and minors may be found in this site.

This page, updated, January 11, 2008

Below is information on the current law in Virginia, and on legislative actions in 2007 and earlier.
Here is the link for information on 2008 legislative actions.

The Current law in Virginia: 
The Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act was passed in 1990, with some amendments thereafter.

In 2007, various legislation was presented, but only one item passed -- Delegate Morgan Griffith's bill, HB 2422, which as written would severely harm the current law. 
It passed both the Virginia House and the Virginia Senate, was amended by the Governor to make all Virginia restaurants no-smoking, the Assembly rejected this, and the Governor vetoed this anti-health bill.

On March 26, 2007, Governor Timothy Kaine amended this bill to require all restaurants in Virginia to prohibit smoking.

However, on Wednesday, April 4, 2007, the Virginia House of Delegates rejected his amendment by a majority vote of 40 for the amendment and 59 against it, 1 not voting.  The vote is given below. 

The House rejection sent the bill back to the Governor for his decision on whether to sign it or veto it.  He told the media that he would veto the bill, and he did veto it on April 10, 2007.

April 10, 2007



Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2422, which would have removed the requirement for restaurants to maintain nonsmoking sections, provided that they post “smoking permitted” signs.

I offered an amendment to ban smoking in restaurants.  This amendment was not accepted by the House of Delegates, though there is broad agreement that additional smoking limitations are warranted.  Accordingly, I am asking my Health Commissioner to convene stakeholders to develop a proposal for next year.  At the same time, I am unwilling to sign legislation that would eliminate the current requirement for a nonsmoking section.

Accordingly, I am vetoing this bill.

Virginians should still write to Governor Kaine to thank him for his courageous step in recommending that all restaurants be no-smoking, and in vetoing this anti-health bill, HB 2422, when the Assembly did not pass his recommendations.

The Honorable Timothy Kaine
Office of the Governor
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone:  804-786-2211;  FAX 804-371-6351
He may be reached by e-mail through his web site at

Quoted earlier in The Daily Press, writer Larry O'Dell, Associated Press:
Hilton Oliver, executive director of the Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public, denounced the legislation [HB 2422] as a retreat from the public health safeguards of the 1990 Clean Indoor Air Act.

"All this says is we're revoking part of this state law as long as you put a sign on the door," Oliver said in a telephone interview. "It's idiocy."

Further information on the 2007 legislation, final votes, media articles are given below.
This also includes a discussion of this bill at the April 26, 2007 Altria meeting.

For historic purposes, there follows a discussion of the events of 2006, when amendments to increase the protections of the law were attempted, and squashed.


15.2-2800 - 15.2-2810 State Law
[formerly 15.1-291.1 - 15.1-291.3]

Current as of 2007, in the public interest by GASP®
The law was passed in 1990; with some amendments later.

Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public

The Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act was passed in 1990.

Topics in brochure:
Any business may be smoke-free.
Smoking is totally prohibited in certain areas.
Additional required no-smoking areas.
Against the law to smoke in a no-smoking area.
How the law defines smoking.
Posting of signs.
Exemptions to the law.
What if smoking areas are permitted?
Walking through smoke to reach the no-smoking.
The workplace.
Avoiding violations.
Local laws, grandfathered in.
Prohibition on new local laws.


ANY workplace, agency, etc. may be smoke-free.  The state law presents only the bare minimum that is required.  There is no legal requirement to provide a smoking area.
No one is required to provide a smoking area.


Indoor Service and Indoor Cashier Lines
This includes persons on BOTH sides of the counter or desk, employee and customer. Includes bakery, deli, salad bar, information, customer service desk, etc.

Hospital Emergency Rooms

Indoor Elevators, regardless of capacity

Polling Rooms (where you vote)

Local or District Health Departments

Public restrooms of buildings the state government owns, operates, and/or leases

Public restrooms of health care facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, boarding homes, adult homes, supervised living facilities, ambulatory medical & surgical centers)

Licensed Day Care centers not in private homes

Public School Buses

Public Schools  No smoking at any time by anyone amendment passed in 2002.

NO-SMOKING Areas Are Additionally REQUIRED in:

State buildings: public and workplace areas, excepting Dept. of Corrections workplace areas

Local government buildings: public and workplace areas

Retail stores & recreational facilities (indoor stadium, arena, skating rink, video game facility, senior citizen rec. facility) 15,000 sq. ft. or more

Educational facilities (Day Care, nursery schools, public & private schools, colleges, universities, medical, law, or vocational schools)

Health care facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, boarding homes, adult homes, supervised living facilities, ambulatory medical & surgical centers)

Restaurants of 50 seats or more.


The law prohibits smoking in a No-Smoking area. If the smoker persists in smoking after being asked to stop, this is a civil violation, and a $25 penalty may be levied.


The law defines smoking as "the carrying or holding of any lighted pipe, cigar, or cigarette of any kind, or any other lighted smoking equipment, or the lighting, inhaling, or exhaling of smoke from a pipe, cigar, or cigarette of any kind."


Signs must be posted in ordinary public view.
The signs and the writing or international No Smoking symbol must be large enough to be visible at all times, not hidden by stock, etc.

A business or building that is smoke-free should post signs so indicating at the entrance. Signs posted inside serve as reminders.

If smoking is permitted in the building, signs stating "No Smoking" must be posted at all appropriate places such as elevators, checkout lines, etc. "Smoking Permitted" signs should be posted in the appropriate place.

Restaurants with no-smoking and smoking areas must display a "No-Smoking Section Available" sign at the public entrance.

There is a civil penalty of $25 for not posting the "No Smoking" signs as required by law.


Material hoist elevators are not required to be no-smoking. (Amendment, 1991).

Tobacco warehouses, retail tobacco stores, and tobacco manufacturing plants are not required to have no-smoking areas. (Amendment, 1992)


Any workplace, business, government agency, etc. may be smoke-free.

No one is required to have a smoking area.

If smoking is permitted, that area "shall not encompass so much of the building, structure, space, place, or area open to the general public that reasonable no-smoking areas, considering the nature of the use and the size of the building, are not provided;" and these smoking areas "shall be separate to the extent reasonably practicable from those rooms or areas entered by the public in the normal use of the particular business or institution;" and that "ventilation systems and existing physical barriers shall be used when reasonably practicable to minimize the permeation of smoke into no-smoking areas." There is no requirement to make "physical modifications or alterations to any structure."


The law does not require smoking areas, but the law DOES require NO SMOKING areas. See above.


Any restaurant is permitted to be smoke-free.

The minimum requirements for ALL restaurants are as follows:

Smoking is prohibited in any indoor cashier line, service line (salad bar, etc.), and elevator;

NO SMOKING signs must be posted and visible.

If smoking is permitted, restaurants of 50 seats or more are also required to have no-smoking areas sufficient to meet customer demand. No-smoking and smoking areas must be so posted, and a "No-Smoking Section Available" sign posted at the public entrance. The 50 seats does NOT include bar or lounge area, or restaurant areas used only for private functions.


Any law enforcement officer may issue a summons for any violation of this law.

A few localities have local ordinances, and these specify the enforcement process, which simplifies the procedure.

Otherwise, any individual or business may call or write the local police, the state police, sheriff, county or city attorney, or the Commonwealth's attorney to report violations.

For example, someone may call the local sheriff or police to report that a particular business or government agency refuses to post the appropriate NO SMOKING signs, or permits people to smoke in the NO SMOKING area. The law enforcement officials may decide to issue a summons, or may issue a verbal warning. Free signs are available from the number on this brochure cover. If local law enforcement officials refuse to act, the citizen may call the state police.

If you see someone smoking in the NO SMOKING areas, you may wish to ask the manager or supervisor to deal with the situation. If they refuse, you may report them to any law enforcement officer.

Citizens are permitted to file a warrant through the General District Court against any business or agency which has violated the law.


Businesses and government agencies are required to have the NO SMOKING signs conspicuously posted.
Free signs are available from Virginia GASP.

If an employee or customer is smoking in a no-smoking area, that is against the law, and managers could ask them to refrain from unlawful behavior, and if that behavior persists, they may call a law enforcement officer to assist. Businesses have reported reduction in litter by placing ashtrays either outside the building for smoke-free places, or only at the smoking area.


Any workplace may be smoke-free.

No one is required to provide smoking areas.

The state and local government workplaces must provide no-smoking areas in addition to elevators, service and cashier lines. Only the Department of Corrections in its workplace area is exempted from the state and local government workplace requirement. They may also be smoke-free.

The Virginia State Code in Section 40.1-51.1 states that every employee has the right to a workplace free from recognized hazards.


Local ordinances passed before January 1, 1990, remain intact.

These include the counties of:
Arlington, and
Fairfax; and

the cities of:
Falls Church,
Newport News,
Suffolk, and
Virginia Beach.

These were grandfathered into the state law.

These local laws are often more protective than state law.
For example, nursing homes must prohibit smoking in all areas except private rooms in some localities.
The penalty in some localities for violations is a Class 4 misdemeanor and a $100 fine.

As of 1990, all Virginia localities are prohibited from passing laws more protective than state law, but may outline enforcement and administrative procedures.

2007 legislative efforts:

Here is general information,followed by:

the address/phone that Virginians may use to reach the Governor;
the votes -- the final House vote on April 4, 2007 is not yet available in detail
a statement by Anne Morrow Donley of Virginia GASP;
excerpts of articles from the media;
and a discussion of the legislation at the Philip Morris/Altria meeting on April 26, 2007.

Several bills were introduced in the Virginia state legislature, which met from mid-January through February 24, 2007.  The Veto session was April 4, 2007. 

All the House bills failed in sub-committee except for Delegate Morgan Griffith's bill which passed both the House and the Senate.  Griffith holds considerable power in the House.  The Speaker of the House, also a powerful man, William Howell, assigned the no-smoking bills to an unfriendly committee.  A Senate bill, sponsored by Senator Brandon Bell, passed the Senate, but was left to die in the same House subcommittee.  Bell's bill would have expanded the protections in the current indoor clean air act.  The members of that General Laws committee were:  Delegates Reid (Chairman), Cox, Albo, S.C. Jones, McQuigg, Suit, Rapp, Wright, Oder, Saxman, D.W. Marshall, Gear, Cosgrove, Abbitt, Phillips, Armstrong, Barlow, Hull, Ward, Dance, Tyler, Bulova.

The only bill to survive both the House and the Senate was Delegate Morgan Griffith's bill which would have repealed a part of the current Virginia law, removing the requirement that all restaurants must either be no-smoking or at a bare minimum have a sizable no-smoking section.  It only would have required that restaurants which allow smoking must post a conspicuous sign stating, "Smoking Permitted."  This bill was amended by the Governor to make all restaurants no-smoking.  The House defeated the Governor's amendments.  The Governor vetoed the bill.

Here is a discussion from the Philip Morris/Altria meeting, April 26, 2007.  You may link to the GASP coverage of this meeting.

The first question was asked by Anne Morrow Donley of Virginia GASP, USA.

Louis Camilleri, CEO, Altria
"Madame, good morning."

Anne Morrow Donley
"Good morning, Mr. Camilleri.  My name is Anne Morrow Donley.  I am a shareholder from Virginia.  Some years ago, Philip Morris/Altria promised that they would no longer intervene or lobby against restrictions on smoking in public places.  You have broken that promise.

This year in Virginia, my home state, you intervened more than once.  A bill passed the [General] Assembly, which would have taken the Virginia Clean Indoor Air Act backwards.  The Governor, Timothy Kaine, amended that bill to make all restaurants no-smoking.   Philip Morris lobbied to try to get an exemption to the amendment to say that restaurants with ABC licenses would be exempt, which would in effect have made very few restaurants in Virginia smoke-free.

The Governor did not go with that.  Philip Morris then lobbied, saying that the Governor's amendment would include little pushcarts on sidewalks and also the catering of private affairs, which was untrue.  However, the House Majority Leader, whose bill it was, used that Philip Morris argument to defeat the Governor's amendment.

So, in conversations with your staff, the Reverend Michael Crosby has learned that you are no longer sticking by your promise, which we've already learned, and that you will be selective in the future about where you apply your lobbying and where you don't, and where you keep this promise and where you don't.

So, my question to you is two-part.  First of all, what criteria will you use for this selectivity?  And, secondly, what are your plans for lobbying in Virginia next year on restrictions on smoking in public and in the years to come?  Thank you."

Louis Camilleri: 
"Mrs. Donley, thank you for your question.  I'm glad you raised this topic.  You are correct.  We have said in the past, and in fact in 2005 and 2006, we refrained from lobbying on smoking restrictions.  However, we've revised that policy.  And I'll explain why we've revised that policy.

I'm glad you brought up the issue of Virginia.  Virginia's legislature proposed a number of smoking restrictions and a bill that we, in fact, supported.  And it passed.  It went to Governor Kaine, as you've said.  And in Virginia, the Governor is allowed to amend the law.

We felt his amendments were too Draconian and extreme, because a complete reading of his amendments would have banned smoking on outside patios, in private catered events, outdoor festivals, and things of that nature.  We felt that was extreme.  So we -- yes, we intervened.

So, in terms of our criteria going forward, as we've always said, we prefer accommodations to total bans.  In certain places, we will support smoking restrictions where they do not exist.  But, to the extent the bills being proposed are, in our views, too extreme, where they impinge on individuals' property, then I think we have a duty to adult smokers to defend their own rights, because they do have rights.

So, thank you for your question.  [Turning to the other side of the room,] Sir?"

Anne Morrow Donley: 
[microphone turned off at first]  "To clarify the record, the bill you supported would have removed the requirement that restaurants must either be smoke-free or provide a large No Smoking section, and instead required that restaurants that permit smoking, no matter how large they are, would just have to post a sign saying Smoking Permitted.  And that of course, would be going backwards.  Thank you."

Louis Camilleri: 
"Well, to correct that statement for the benefit of everybody else in the room, the bill provided for a total smoking ban in all restaurants unless the owner of that restaurant posted a billboard outside his restaurant saying smoking was permitted.  That's the clear view of the bill.  Thank you."

[Web Editor's note: 
You may read the GASP discussion of the legislative history of the bills, including excerpts from media articles, in this web site, which differs from Mr. Camilleri's interpretation.
You may also see the current law and what it covers in Virginia.
You may even read, on the Virginia state web site, the language of the bill which Philip Morris supported, noting the crossed out words which would have eliminated parts of the current Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, noting the italicized words which would be the new language.  http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?071+ful+HB2422ER ]

Governor Timothy Kaine has vetoed the anti-health bill, HB 2422.  This is good news for health.  On Wednesday, April 4, 2007 -- At 3:55 pm Eastern Daylight Time, the Virginia House of Delegates rejected Governor Timothy Kaine's amendment to HB 2422, by a majority vote of 40 for it and 59 against it, 1 not voting.  The amendment would have made all restaurants in Virginia no-smoking.

The Governor has vetoed HB 2422.  You may write to thank him for recommending that all restaurants be no-smoking, and for vetoing HB 2422 when his recommendation did not pass the Assembly.
The Honorable Timothy Kaine
Office of the Governor
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone:  804-786-2211;  FAX 804-371-6351
He may be reached by e-mail through his web site at

Quoted earlier in The Daily Press, writer Larry O'Dell, Associated Press:
Hilton Oliver, executive director of the Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public, denounced the legislation as a retreat from the public health safeguards of the 1990 Clean Indoor Air Act.

"All this says is we're revoking part of this state law as long as you put a sign on the door," Oliver said in a telephone interview. "It's idiocy."

The current law already permits ANY establishment to go completely NO SMOKING.

Anne Morrow Donley
, co-founder and president of Virginia GASP, said:

"Delegate Morgan Griffith's bill, unless amended, would burn a cigarette hole through the current law, catapult Virginia backwards, and allow Philip Morris to again practice economic blackmail in Virginia.   Griffith's bill strikes out the current requirement that restaurants which do not totally prohibit smoking must at least provide a sizable no-smoking section.

When GASP asked Bernie Cohen (D, Alexandria) and Tom Michie (D, Charlottesville) to carry the original bill, which became law in 1990, GASP produced evidence to the legislature that Philip Morris had a two pronged attack on health by both blocking legislative efforts and also voluntary efforts to protect health. 

Philip Morris ran an ad in the Richmond News Leader (now part of Richmond Times-Dispatch) criticizing C&P Telephone Company for going smoke-free.  Philip Morris encouraged its employees to boycott certain businesses that had gone smoke-free.  Many businesses were afraid to post a No Smoking sign, because Philip Morris would not like it.  Some restaurants that had gone smoke-free before 1990 received orders for meals from Philip Morris employees, who then came to the drive-in window and refused to take it, saying, "oh yes, you're trying to get rid of my job." 

The Virginia state government itself asked Philip Morris to review the state's early policies,
which only said there would be no smoking around oxygen tanks or any dangerous chemicals. 

Griffith's bill would catapult Virginia backwards, and allow Philip Morris to once again practice economic blackmail on restaurants and other businesses.  This would severely endanger the health of employees and the general public.  Griffith's bill must, at a bare minimum, be amended to re-instate the original language of the law regarding restaurants.  Better still would be to require that all restaurants (cafeterias, cafes, etc.) be required to be totally no-smoking."

VOTES   Virginia legislation may be tracked at http://legis.state.va.us/

Vote April 4, 2007 on the governor's smoke-free restaurant amendment to M. Griffith's HB 2422.
The vote was 40 for the smoke-free restaurant amendment,
59 against it, 1 not voting.

YEAS--Alexander, Amundson, BaCote, Barlow, Brink, Bulova, Callahan, Ebbin, Eisenberg, Englin, Hamilton, Howell, A.T., Iaquinto, Joannou, Johnson, Jones, S.C., Marsden, McClellan, McEachin, McQuigg, Miller, P.J., Moran, Morgan, Oder, Plum, Poisson, Purkey, Rust, Scott, J.M., Shannon, Sickles, Spruill, Suit, Toscano, Valentine, Waddell, Ward, Watts, Welch, Wittman--40.

NAYS--Abbitt, Albo, Armstrong, Athey, Bell, Bowling, Byron, Caputo, Carrico, Cline, Cole, Cosgrove, Cox, Dance, Dudley, Fralin, Frederick, Gear, Gilbert, Griffith, Hall, Hargrove, Hogan, Hugo, Hull, Hurt, Ingram, Janis, Jones, D.C., Kilgore, Landes, Lewis, Lingamfelter, Lohr, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., May, Melvin, Miller, J.H., Nixon, Nutter, O'Bannon, Orrock, Peace, Phillips, Putney, Rapp, Reid, Saxman, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Shuler, Tata, Tyler, Wardrup, Ware, O., Ware, R.L., Wright, Mr. Speaker (William Howell)--59.

NOT VOTING--Crockett-Stark--1.

Brief Analysis of the votes above: 
The April 4, 2007 House vote on the governor's smoke-free restaurant amendment to HB 2422 revealed what many suspected --

that Speaker of the House William Howell had assigned all the House and Senate no-smoking in public bills to a committee whose members would reject them all -- all except the tobacco industry friendly bill of Morgan Griffith.  Griffith told Anne Morrow Donley of Virginia GASP that his bill was not intended to be a tobacco industry bill.  Griffith said he didn't want to tell business what to do.  Perhaps Griffith doth protest too much.

Please note -- Lesson 1A in Politics -- to get your bills passed, be a friend of the Speaker of the House.  It doesn't matter if the bill is good for Virginia or not, just be a friend of the Speaker of the House. 

Lesson 1B -- Those who wish to follow the money may also see the Virginia Public Access Project web site.  Remember that money given by corporations, etc. to political parties, to various PACs (Political Action Committee), and to powerful members of the legislature, may be re-directed to individual delegates and senators for their campaigns.  VPAP lists the tobacco industry contributions under "Agriculture."  Researchers may also wish to check for contributions from the various Retail Merchants Associations, the Manufacturers Associations, and anything connected with the Hospitality or Restaurant Associations.  This all forms an intricate but effective net of dependency.

Philip Morris, aka Altria, had stated at earlier shareholder meetings that they were no longer involved in lobbying against smoking restrictions.  This was discussed at their 2007 shareholder meeting April 26 in New Jersey.

The Speaker of the House, William J. Howell (Republican -Fredericksburg), who voted NO (to defeat the smoke-free restaurant amendment) assigned all the no-smoking bills to the House General Laws Committee.  The Chairman of that committee, Jack Reid (Republican-Henrico) who also voted NO assigned all the no-smoking bills to the Gaming subcommittee. Reid is NOT running for re-election in 2007.

The members of that subcommittee are Gear, Albo, Wright, Cosgrove, Armstrong, and Abbitt all of whom voted NO, to defeat the no-smoking restaurant amendment.  Only ONE no-smoking bill emerged from that subcommittee -- the bill of Morgan Griffith (Republican -Salem), who is the Majority Leader of the House.

In fact, included in the 40 delegates who supported the governor's smoke-free restaurant amendment, are only eight of the 22 members of the General Laws Committee:  S.C. Jones, McQuigg, Suit, Oder, Barlow, Hull, Ward, and Bulova. 

Jack Reid (Republican) is not running for re-election.  The members of the General Laws Committee currently are as follows (after the 2007 election, the Speaker will make new committee assignments):
Reid (Chairman), Cox, Albo, Jones (of Suffolk), McQuigg (Vice Chairman), Suit, Rapp, Wright, Oder, Saxman, Marshall (of Danville), Gear, Cosgrove, Abbitt, Phillips, Armstrong, Barlow, Hull, Ward, Dance, Tyler, Bulova.

February 2007 -- Virginia Senate vote on HB 2422, Griffith's bill.  Senator Bell led the vote on this bad bill, giving it more courtesy than his bill was given in the House.  The Griffith bill was passed 23-17, February 22, 2007.  Bell told the media that he hoped that Governor Kaine would amend the bill.  Some senators who normally vote for health voted for this bill, following the lead of Senator Bell.

YEAS -- Bell, Blevins, Chichester, Cuccinelli, Devolites Davis, Hanger, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, McDougle, Miller, Newman, Norment, Potts, Puckett, Quayle, Reynolds, Stolle, Stosch, Ticer, Wagner, Wampler, Whipple--23.

NAYS -- Colgan, Deeds, Edwards, Hawkins, Herring, Houck, Howell, Lambert, Martin, Obenshain, O'Brien, Puller, Rerras, Ruff, Saslaw, Watkins, Williams--17.

Earlier Votes, Virginia Senate, floor vote, February 5, 2007.
Senator Brandon Bell's SB 1161, to expand the protections in the current no-smoking law. 
This bill passed 23--16, 1 no vote; and is now held in a subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates.

YEAS--Bell, Blevins, Chichester, Colgan, Deeds, Devolites Davis, Edwards, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, Miller, Norment, Potts, Puckett, Puller, Quayle, Saslaw, Stolle, Ticer, Wagner, Whipple--23.

NAYS--Cuccinelli, Hanger, Houck, Lambert, Martin, McDougle, Newman, Obenshain, O'Brien, Rerras, Reynolds, Ruff, Stosch, Wampler, Watkins, Williams--16.

NOT VOTING--Hawkins--1.

Earlier Vote, Virginia House of Delegates, floor vote, February 2, 2007.
Delegate Morgan Griffith's HB 2422, to eliminate the requirement that restaurants with 50 seats or more must have a sizable no-smoking section, and to require that restaurants that wish to allow smoking must post a sign stating Smoking Permitted.  This bill passed 74-22, 4 no votes; and is now in the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee.

YEAS--Abbitt, Albo, Alexander, Amundson, Armstrong, Athey, BaCote, Barlow, Bowling, Byron, Callahan, Caputo, Carrico, Cline, Cole, Cosgrove, Cox, Crockett-Stark, Frederick, Gear, Gilbert, Griffith, Hall, Hamilton, Hargrove, Howell, A.T., Iaquinto, Joannou, Jones, S.C., Landes, Lewis, Lohr, Marsden, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., May, McClellan, McEachin, McQuigg, Melvin, Miller, J.H., Miller, P.J., Moran, Morgan, Nixon, Nutter, O'Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Peace, Phillips, Poisson, Purkey, Putney, Rapp, Reid, Rust, Scott, E.T., Shannon, Sherwood, Shuler, Sickles, Suit, Tata, Tyler, Valentine, Waddell, Ward, Wardrup, Ware, O., Watts, Welch, Wittman, Mr. Speaker--74.

NAYS--Bell, Brink, Bulova, Dance, Dudley, Ebbin, Englin, Fralin, Hogan, Hull, Hurt, Ingram, Janis, Jones, D.C., Kilgore, Lingamfelter, Plum, Saxman, Scott, J.M., Toscano, Ware, R.L., Wright--22.

NOT VOTING--Eisenberg, Hugo, Johnson, Spruill--4.

Earlier Vote, Senate Education and Health Committee, February 15, 2007
Delegate Morgan Griffith's HB 2422 was discussed in this committee on February 15, 2007. 

The Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee has passed Delegate Morgan Griffith's bill HB 2422 with one amendment.  Anne Morrow Donley, Virginia GASP, had pointed out in communications with the senators that one of four major negative impacts of Griffith's bill was that it threatened the existence of local ordinances grandfathered into the law in 1990.  The bill was amended to ensure the safety of those ordinances.

As for the rest of the state, the other three major negative impacts remain to threaten the protections we now have under the current law.

Senator Bell (R, Roanoke) who had a bill being held hostage in the House General Laws subcommittee, made the motion to pass Griffith's bill with the understanding that they might reach some compromise even though the bills are poles apart.  Bell's bill would require no-smoking in most workplaces, while Griffith's bill puts loopholes in the current law, requiring only a "Smoking Permitted" sign if restaurants allow any smoking.

GASP's hope is that no harm will be done to the current law, but Griffith's bill as it now stands would burn a cigarette hole through the law and catapult Virginia into the 19th century.  GASP urged  people to have their senators oppose Griffith's bill.  Delegate Griffith and Speaker W. Howell are extremely powerful.  There were three NO votes in committee -- Senators Houck, Edwards, and Janet Howell.  Senator Whipple abstained.

No compromise was reached in the week that followed in the full Senate.  Senator Bell brought Griffith's bill to a vote, and the bill passed 23-17.  Reportedly, Bell is placing hope in Governor Tim Kaine.

Donley's remarks before the Senate Education and Health Committee are given below.  The major objection that GASP has to the bill is that it encourages smoking since it strikes out the requirement that restaurants that are not totally no-smoking must have at a bare minimum a large no-smoking section.  This would encourage more smoke in restaurants and in grocery stores which have cafes and restaurants, and give the tobacco industry leverage to pressure restaurants into allowing smoking.

YEAS--Potts, Saslaw, Lambert, Lucas, Quayle, Martin, Newman, Ruff, Blevins, Rerras, Bell--11.

NAYS--Houck, Howell, Edwards--3.


Remarks presented in written form by Donley of GASP to the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee and summarized in front of the committee.
Good Morning --

My name is Anne Morrow Donley, the president and co-founder of Virginia GASP, Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public, Inc. We were the major help in getting the original law passed in 1990. My health suffered from being down here then in all the smoke, but I have come today because this bill before you would destroy much of what we worked to establish.

Delegate Morgan Griffith's bill, HB 2422, goes backwards, not forwards. We've heard it said a million times down here, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if you're going to "fix it", you shouldn't throw away the main engine and the wheels.

Delegate Griffith's bill, no matter how well intended it may be, if passed will have four major negative impacts on Virginia.

First -- it will allow increased smoking in restaurants. Indeed, it will encourage smoking in restaurants. The bill as it now stands, has eliminated the requirement that restaurants of 50 seats or more must either be completely no-smoking or at a bare minimum must have a sizable no-smoking section. The current law already encourages restaurants to be no-smoking. This bill allows all restaurants to allow smoking. The legislative intent is quite different.

Grocery stores which now operate cafes and restaurants could allow smoking throughout the stores with this legislation. Certainly the smoke would travel through the whole store. There is a fad among older teens and college students of hookah smoking, the water pipe -- and many cafes and restaurants offer this nicotine addictive service. This bill would encourage hookah smoking as well. The bill says restaurants must only post a Smoking Permitted sign if they allow smoking.

Second -- it will be a launching pad to do the same thing for all other businesses and agencies throughout Virginia. Grocery stores, hospitals, elevators, voting booths, government agencies, etc. could be the next victims.

Third -- it will endanger the ordinances of northern Virginia, Charlottesville and Albemarle, and the Tidewater area that were grandfathered into the current law in 1990. This bill threatens the continued existence of those ordinances.

Fourth -- it will allow Philip Morris to once again put economic pressure on restaurants, and other businesses that have cafes and cafeterias and restaurants within them, to allow smoking. GASP was able to show the legislators in 1990 that Philip Morris was encouraging its employees to avoid business with any company that went no-smoking. For example, Philip Morris ran an advertisement in what was then The Richmond News Leader, criticizing C&P Telephone Company (now Verizon) for going no-smoking. Now Philip Morris can say to restaurant owners, you don't have to be smoke-free, the law says you can just post a Smoking Permitted sign.

This bill is very like a swimming pool ordinance, stating that all swimming pools will be clean unless they post a Peeing Permitted sign.

Delegate Griffith's bill should be amended to re-instate the original requirement that all restaurants of 50 seats or more must at a bare minimum have a sizable no-smoking section, and to continue to protect the ordinances grandfathered into the original law, or this bill should be totally killed.

The health of the people of Virginia rests in your hands.

Thank you.

MEDIA  ARTICLES, 2007 session, and related articles, chronological order, most recent first

EXCERPTS from The Virginian Pilot, April 4, 2007, 6:38 pm, headlined, House rejects restaurant smoking ban, writer Larry O'Dell, Associated Press.

The House of Delegates voted 59-40 Wednesday to reject Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's proposal to ban smoking in dining establishments throughout the state. Kaine had proposed the ban as an amendment to legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith of Salem.

The measure as passed by the General Assembly now goes back to Kaine, who said he will veto it. Legislators will not have an opportunity to override the veto, which means the public smoking law adopted in 1990 will remain unchanged.

Kaine had touted the ban as way to protect restaurant customers and employees alike from the scientifically proven health hazards of secondhand smoke. The issue will not fade away, he said.

"Momentum is strongly in favor of these kinds of protections for workers and consumers," Kaine told reporters after the House vote.

Griffith's bill would require restaurants that allow smoking to post a "Smoking Permitted" sign at the entrance. However, it also would eliminate the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act's requirement that restaurants that allow smoking offer separate smoking and nonsmoking sections - a provision that Kaine called a "big step backward" in protecting public health.

Griffith claimed that Kaine's amendment was so broad that it would have the unintended consequence of banning smoking even at outdoor festivals or private events where food is prepared and served.

"He mucked up the law," Griffith said. "If we pass these amendments, it will come back to bite you in the ankle."

All 140 legislative seats are up for election in November.

Cathleen Grzesiek, chairman of a coalition of health organization and state spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, said Griffith's portrayal of the amendment as more far-reaching than a simple restaurant smoking ban "was just a smokescreeen and an attempt to confuse and scare legislators into voting against it."

Said Grzesiek: "We're disappointed 59 members of the House chose to protect big tobacco over the health of Virginians."

Richmond-based tobacco giant Philip Morris USA had lobbied against the ban. The company supports banning smoking in restaurants with an exemption for areas near the bar, spokesman Bill Phelps said.

"We believe total bans go too far because they fail to respect the comfort and choices of adults who smoke and those who don't," Phelps said. "We're glad legislators agree with this view."

The Virginia Retail Merchants Association also had opposed the ban, arguing that restaurateurs should have the right to decide for themselves whether to allow smoking.

EXCERPTS from The Roanoke Times, Roanoke, Virginia, late afternoon April 4, 2007, headlined, Smoking ban snuffed out for this year, writer Mason Adams.

An attempt to ban smoking in Virginia restaurants failed this afternoon with a 59-40 vote in the House of Delegates.

The General Assembly had earlier this year passed a bill to dismantle requirements that restaurants maintain a nonsmoking section. However, all restaurants would then become nonsmoking unless they posted a “smoking permitted” sign at each entrance.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said the measure would apply market forces to restaurants and thus result in more smoke-free dining options.

However, Gov. Tim Kaine amended the bill to remove the sign exemption, which would have prohibited smoking in all restaurants in Virginia. Griffith argued the amendment would have unintended consequences. Any business that serves food, he said, would be affected, including catering, push carts and motels that had room service.

        ... the issue’s unlikely to die soon.

EXCERPTS from The Richmond Times-Dispatch, late on April 4, 2007, headlined, Smoking ban rejected, no writer given.

The House of Delegates snuffed out the ban, rejecting it by a 59-40 vote.

The House vote sends the bill back to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in its original form. He can either sign it or veto it. Kaine said he will veto the bill.

Kaine proposed the restaurant smoking ban as an amendment to legislation passed by the General Assembly in February that would have required restaurants that allow smoking to post "smoking permitted" signs.

The sponsor of the legislation, Del. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, raised objections on the House floor to Kaine's amendment, saying it went too far and would make smoking illegal at weddings and outdoor festivals.

"Notwithstanding the good intentions of the governor, he mucked up the law," Griffith said.

Because the House rejected the amendment, the state Senate does not need to act on it.

EXCERPTS from The Virginian Pilot, April 1, 2007, headlined, Smoky Dining Goes Up in Smoke, editorial writer, Margaret Edds.

Think nothing ever changes? Hang around long enough and you'll find that's not quite so.

In a geopolitical sense, the invincible boogeyman of my youth, the Soviet empire, crumbled. Checkpoint Charlie evolved into a tourist attraction. German marks, French francs, Italian liras and a bunch of other distinctive currencies melded into common coin.

So it should come as no surprise, I suppose, that Gov. Tim Kaine might blithely propose an out-and-out statewide ban on smoking in restaurants. Rest assured, even a sympathetic governor would not have broached such a radical idea a decade or two ago. Certainly not on the eve of statewide legislative elections.

But - did I say this already? - every now and again, a wave of change sweeps across the political and social waters. When it comes to smoking, we're witnessing the cresting of one now.

A free-market version of a ban passed the General Assembly earlier this year. Sponsored by House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, the bill would eliminate mandatory no-smoking sections in restaurants and substitute "Smoking Allowed" signs where the practice is tolerated. Griffith envisions such postings as a customer turn-off, leading to less smoky dining; anti-smoking activists see them as a Trojan horse.

Rather than tinker at the margins with that bill, Kaine last week recommended amending it to create an outright ban. He encountered scarcely a whimper of public denunciation, verifying the distance the state has traveled in a few short years.

The Assembly will take up Kaine's recommendations on Wednesday.

By all rights, as a reporter covering the General Assembly over several decades, I probably should be dead by now. Other than "bartender," if there were a profession or a workplace more consistently draped in a canopy of smoke, you'd be hard-pressed to find it. Once, I remember counting the ashtrays in a committee room. Astonishingly, they outnumbered chairs.

"There was smoke everywhere; you could not escape it," said Anne Morrow Donley, president and co-founder of Virginia GASP (Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public), the state's leading anti-smoking activist group.

Back then, in a state where tobacco was as entwined as oxygen in the culture, a frontal assault against growers and manufacturers would have been the political equivalent of putting a gun to one's head.

What changed and when?

As Donley recalls, perhaps the first serious effort to control public smoking came in the 1985 session, when a Northern Virginia delegate introduced legislation saying that it was OK for a state agency to post a "No Smoking" sign. The bill died in committee after cigarette lobbyists and others insisted that administrators already enjoyed the right.

Never mind that they weren't using it.

Over the next couple of years, similar efforts failed. Even a bill forbidding smoking in hospital emergency-room waiting areas couldn't make it out of committee. Then in 1988, former Sen. Tom Michie of Charlottesville and Del. Bernie Cohen of Alexandria introduced the Virginia Clean Air Act, a sweeping proposal curtailing smoking from the workplace to the grocery line.

Two years later, bolstered by mounting data about the risks of smoking and in substantially amended form, it passed. The law banned smoking in elevators, hospital emergency rooms and grocery stores of more than 50,000 square feet, among other sites, and requiring "No Smoking" sections in restaurants seating 50 or more.

For the next several years, Donley fought a trench war against businesses that resisted change. Like a new mother hoisting a diaper bag, she tromped through Richmond with a shoulder pack stuffed with "No Smoking" signs and anti-smoking brochures.

Scores of people called to report that their school or business or nursing home wasn't honoring the new rules. Donley would show up the next day to explain the law. She and GASP took several businesses, including Food Lion, Philip Morris and the Richmond newspapers, to court.

She won some, she lost some. But along the way, more and more signs went up, and more and more Virginians started moving outside to smoke. "I didn't think of myself as brave. I thought of myself as desperate. I wanted to breathe," she said.

Now 66, retired from a more recent job helping edit and write the Almanac of Virginia Politics, Donley hadn't shown up at the legislature for years. This winter, she made an exception to oppose Griffith's bill. However well-intentioned, she said, eliminating required [no-]smoking sections wouldn't be progress.

Donley is hardly surprised by Kaine's amendments. For many years, she believes, it's the politicians - not the public - who have resisted change. Now with restaurant/ bar smoking bans in place from Colorado to New York, people can see that businesses won't collapse, and may even thrive, in smoke-free environments.

Lawmakers may or may not side with Kaine this week. If they don't, they'll be lagging behind public opinion - and taking a greater political risk than he. Suddenly, even in Virginia, "No Smoking" has become good, safe politics.

If you've never seen a sea change, you have now.

EXCERPTS from  The Denver Channel, Colorado, March 15, 2007, headlined:  March Madness Has Different Smell This Year, writer Tyler Lopez.

Sports lovers can root for their favorite team without the haze of cigarette smoke.

Eight months into Colorado's statewide smoking ban, patrons and staffers say it's changing the look of the "sports bar" at this popular time of year for the hoop-addicted.

"We sold about 15 percent more food at the restaurant, which is a pretty significant increase for any restaurant, I would think," said Matthew Brown,
manager of the Cherry Cricket in Cherry Creek North.

"A lot more families (are) coming in now. Which, sometimes smoking would curtail the families from coming in in the past. And so, it's a welcome
environment for everybody now. (It's) Not just the bar crowd."

Parents seem to agree.

"Honestly, yeah I feel a lot more free to go pretty much anywhere," said Tracy Hughes

Staffers said that tips have remained steady as food sales have risen.
EXCERPTS from The Daily Press, February 23, 2007, headlined, "Va. House passes 'Smoking permitted' sign legislation", writer Larry O'Dell, Associated Press writer.
Virginia restaurants that allow smoking would be required to post signs that say so at their entrances if legislation sent Thursday to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine becomes law.

However, restaurants displaying "Smoking Permitted" signs would no longer be required to offer a nonsmoking section--a provision that public health advocates consider a blow to efforts to protect diners and restaurant workers from the hazards of secondhand smoke.

The Senate voted 23-17 to pass the bill, which already had cleared the House of Delegates. Kaine has until March 26 to sign, veto or amend it.

Hilton Oliver, executive director of the Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public, denounced the legislation as a retreat from the public health safeguards of the 1990 Clean Indoor Air Act.

"All this says is we're revoking part of this state law as long as you put a sign on the door," Oliver said in a telephone interview. "It's idiocy."

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, offered the legislation as an alternative to a sweeping ban on public smoking proposed by Sen. Brandon Bell. Griffith says he believes his bill will nudge most restaurants to go smoke-free within a couple of years.

Bell, whose bill died in a House committee, urged his Senate colleagues to pass Griffith's bill and let the governor decide whether to amend it to make it stronger.

Bell had considered trying to amend the bill on the Senate floor, but Griffith had vowed to withdraw the legislation if it came back to the House significantly broadened by the Senate.

Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said the governor has not decided what to do on the bill.

"About all I've heard him say in the past is that he is not in support of blanket mandates on business owners, but he has expressed a willingness to consider potential new restrictions for public places such as restaurants and bars," Hall said.

The defeat of Bell's legislation was a victory for Richmond-based tobacco giant Philip Morris USA. The company remained on the sidelines when smoking restrictions were discussed in the previous two sessions but privately lobbied lawmakers this year.

"We agree that additional smoking restrictions in Virginia are warranted so people can more readily avoid being around secondhand smoke but believe the total ban on indoor smoking fails to respect the comfort and choices of both smoking and nonsmoking adults," Philip Morris spokesman David Sutton said in a telephone interview.

Philip Morris's parent company, Altria Group, is among the most generous corporate donors in Virginia politics. It has given more than $2.3 million to candidates and political committees since 1996, according to the nonpartisan and nonprofit campaign finance watchdog, the Virginia Public Access Project. In calendar 2006, Altria gave $248,769.

Excerpts from The Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 23, 2007, headlined, "Smoking bill awaits changes by Kaine, Governor has signaled desire for stronger law that could further limit public smoking", writer John Reid Blackwell.

A ban on smoking in Virginia restaurants could still happen, but the next move belongs to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

The state Senate yesterday passed a bill, 23-17, that would require restaurants that allow smoking to post signs saying so at public entrances. The bill next goes to Kaine, and some public-health advocates think he is willing to offer amendments that would broaden the legislation.

Supporters of stronger laws against indoor smoking opposed the bill, saying it would not protect workers from the health dangers of secondhand smoke. It also would eliminate the requirement that restaurants with more than 50 seats have nonsmoking sections.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Kaine, said the governor has not decided what to do with the legislation. Kaine has indicated he would not favor a blanket ban on smoking in businesses, "but he has indicated he might be receptive to some restrictions on smoking in public places such as restaurants and bars," Hall said.

Last year, Kaine signed an executive order banning smoking in most state-owned buildings and vehicles.

Health groups have lobbied for a law banning smoking in restaurants, retail stores and most public, indoor places in Virginia. Several bills that sought to do that were introduced during the session. The Senate passed one bill, but all the proposals failed in a six-member House of Delegates subcommittee that has repeatedly defeated similar legislation.

The sponsor of one of those bills, Sen. Brandon Bell, R-Roanoke County, filed an amendment to Griffith's bill that would prohibit smoking in restaurants.

Bell withdrew that amendment on the Senate floor yesterday after Griffith said he would strike the bill if the Senate changed it.

"It is my understanding . . . that if we were to amend this bill, even to the point of adding a comma to it, it would be stricken," Bell told the Senate. The governor, he said, "might personally be able to make improvements to this."

Excerpts from The Roanoke Times, February 23, 2007, headlined, "Smoking bill goes to governor, House Bill 2422 would require restaurants to post entryway signs if they allow smoking", writer Mason Adams.

After spending the better part of the General Assembly session working to pass a smoking ban for restaurants and other public places, Sen. Brandon Bell fell back Thursday to reliance on a higher power: Gov. Tim Kaine.

Bell, R-Roanoke County, urged the Virginia Senate to approve House Bill 2422, which would remove regulations requiring nonsmoking areas in restaurants while requiring those who allow smoking to post signs at each entrance. The bill's sponsor, House Majority Leader Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, sees it as a way to put market pressure on restaurants to go smoke-free while still respecting business owners' property rights.

Bell initially said he'd amend HB 2422 to effectively make it a ban on smoking in restaurants, but Griffith responded he'd strike the bill from consideration if the Senate made it more restrictive.

After days of delay, Bell asked the Senate on Thursday to approve the bill as is. That sends it to Kaine, who Bell said "might be able to make improvements to this once he's been able to review it."

The Senate's 23-17 vote to approve HB 2422 now puts the bill before the governor, who last fall signed an executive order banning smoking in state buildings and vehicles. Kaine will have until March 26 to sign, amend or veto the bill.

Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall was vague on the governor's plans.

"The governor has indicated he is not supportive of blanket bans on private business owners," Hall said. "However, he would consider reasonable restrictions in public places such as bars and restaurants."

"In discussions that I have had generally with the governor, he and I personally are not too far apart in our positions," Griffith said. "But I gave my word on the bill, so we may be at odds as to procedures."

If the governor does amend HB 2422, it will come back before the General Assembly for a vote later this year.

HB 2422 is the remaining piece of legislation this year pertaining to secondhand smoke.

And a poll of 625 registered voters conducted in November and released last month by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research showed 71 percent of Virginians favor a statewide law to prohibit smoking in most public places, including bars and restaurants.

In addition to Griffith, five other delegates in the House filed bills to address secondhand smoke in workplaces.

February 16:
Excerpts from
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 16, 2007, headlined "Restaurant smoking bill advances," writer John Reid Blackwell.

A state Senate committee advanced legislation yesterday that would require restaurants in Virginia that allow smoking to post signs saying so at public entrances.

The legislation, sponsored by Del. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, goes to the full Senate.

Griffith said the legislation would protect private-property rights while encouraging more restaurants to go smoke-free.  Customers would be more likely to avoid places that have "smoking permitted" signs out front, he said.

But some tobacco-control advocates have argued that the bill could have the opposite effect, because it would repeal a law that requires restaurants with more than 50 seats to provide nonsmoking sections.  They still could provide nonsmoking sections voluntarily.

Anne Morrow Donley, a tobacco-control activist from Richmond, said the legislation would harm the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, which was passed in 1990.  That law, she said, "is not perfect, but it does encourage nonsmoking."  Griffith's bill, she said, would push more restaurants to go entirely smoking.

"That is unacceptable," Donley told the committee.  "That puts Virginia going backwards."

A coalition of public-health groups lobbying for a statewide, indoor smoking ban also opposes Griffith's bill.  The health groups say it would do nothing to protect restaurant employees from secondhand smoke.

This month, the Senate passed a more sweeping bill that would prohibit smoking in most public, indoor places in Virginia, but the bill failed to advance from a House subcommittee whose members have argued that a blanket smoking ban violates property rights.

The sponsor of that legislation, Sen. Brandon Bell, R-Roanoke County, serves on the Education and Health committee and voted for Griffith's bill yesterday, saying he wanted to advance the bill to keep open the possibility of a compromise.

February 8, 2007
Excerpts from
The Assoicated Press, at Examiner.com, February 8, 2007, headlined, "Indoor public smoking ban held in subcommittee," writer Larry O'Dell.

A legislative subcommittee delayed action Thursday on a bill to ban smoking in most indoor public places and suggested the sponsor try to work out a compromise with a lawmaker pushing a more modest smoking measure.

Sen. Brandon Bell said he was pleased that the House General Laws subcommittee did not kill his bill outright for a second consecutive year. But he questioned whether he and House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith can find common ground in legislative session's hectic final two weeks. The session is scheduled to adjourn Feb. 24.

Bell 's bill would prohibit smoking in restaurants and most other indoor spaces accessible to the public. He says the measure is necessary to protect Virginians from the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Griffith , R-Salem, has proposed requiring restaurants that allow smoking to post a "Smoking Permitted" sign at the entrance. Those restaurants would no longer be legally required to have a nonsmoking section, although they could do so voluntarily.

"It's taking off regulations that are already there," Bell told the subcommittee, adding that the bill also does not protect people who have little choice but to work in the smoking establishments.

January 18, 2007
The Roanoke Times, Letters to the Editor, January 18, 2007, writer, Anne Morrow Donley, co-founder, and President, Virginia GASP.

Del. Morgan Griffith's restaurant bill (Jan. 10 news article, " Griffith bill aimed at curbing smoking") would be wonderful if introduced in the 17th century. In today's world, why should the tyranny of poisonous smoke be permitted any longer in any work place or public place?

Tobacco smoke kills those who breathe it. The tobacco industry won't allow smoking around tobacco seedlings because it kills them.

The overwhelming evidence states that tobacco smoke also kills people who breathe it, causing various cancers, strokes, heart disease and respiratory attacks, as well as harming the development of the fetus.

Griffith states he does not want to force businesses to go smoke-free. Why not? The state "forces" businesses to meet a host of sanitary and environmental regulations, like refrigerating the chicken salad. So why not also protect the health of customers and staff by not allowing toxic fumes inside the restaurant?

This has worked well in many states, such as New York , and in many nations, such as Ireland and Scotland . Business there has increased, not decreased.

Employees and customers, including smokers, should have the right to breathe smoke-free air.

February 5, 2007
Excerpts from WDBJ television, Channel 7, Roanoke, VA, February 5, 2007, Associated Press story, headlined, "
State senate approves ban on smoking in restaurants", no writer noted.

The Virginia Senate passed legislation today to ban smoking in restaurants and most other indoor public places. The vote was 23-to-16.  [Vote given above]

Senator Brandon Bell's bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where similar legislation already has been rejected in committee. The House passed a bill last week that would merely require restaurants that allow smoking to post a sign at the entrance saying so.

Bell said his bill is necessary to protect the health of customers and workers alike. The Roanoke Republican said people ... don't have the right to expose others to cigarette smoke against their wishes.

Republican Senator Marty Williams of Newport News spoke against the bill. ...  He ... said there are many restaurants in rural areas with a long history of folks gathering to play cards or dominoes and have a cigarette.
[GASPer note:  Williams represents Newport News which is not rural, and which already has a strong local ordinance which is working quite well.]

February 3, 2007
Excerpts from
The Roanoke Times, February 3, 2007, headlined, "House passes bill requiring restaurants to post smoking signs", writer Michael Sluss.

House Bill 2422 passed by a vote of 74-22. Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said he hopes his bill will create pressure on restaurants to ban smoking. Griffith, the House majority leader, opposes a broad ban on indoor smoking that is under consideration in the Senate, and has said he will strike his bill if the Senate attempts to make it more restrictive.

Griffith's bill would require restaurants to post conspicuous "Smoking Permitted" signs at each public entrance if they allow smoking. It also would eliminate a requirement that restaurants have nonsmoking sections. The bill calls for fines on smokers and restaurant owners who violate the restrictions, and a misdemeanor charge for a third offense.

The Senate will vote next week on a bill aimed at banning smoking in most indoor public places. Sen. Brandon Bell, R-Roanoke County, is sponsoring Senate Bill 1161.

February 1, 2007
The Washington Post, February 1, 2007, Headlined, "Tobacco Giant Reasserts Itself as calls for Va. smoking ban grow," writer Amy Gardner.
Not too many years ago, all tobacco lobbyist Charlie Davis had to do to ensure swift defeat of anti-smoking legislation was to lean into the microphone at a committee hearing and say, "Philip Morris opposes this bill."

Times have changed for Philip Morris USA at the Virginia General Assembly. Lawmakers are voting this week on several bills to restrict smoking in restaurants and other public places, bills that are closer than ever to approval. And Philip Morris, the Richmond-based tobacco giant and emblem of the historic role that the golden leaf has played in Virginia's prosperity, suddenly has something to worry about.

For two years, in part to improve a public image tarnished by the ill effects of smoking, Philip Morris announced no position on proposed smoking bans across the nation. But in Virginia this year, Davis and other company representatives are meeting with lawmakers -- in their offices or in the corridors -- to steer them away from the more restrictive proposals, lawmakers said.

Davis declined to comment, referring inquiries to Philip Morris. Company spokesman David Sutton confirmed that Philip Morris is "engaging" lawmakers this year to shape what he termed a "reasonable" regulation of smoking in public spaces.

A number of bills are making their way through the legislature. Sutton would not say which proposals are acceptable to the company. A bill banning smoking in most public spaces and workplaces failed in a House subcommittee Friday, and a bill that requires restaurants to display a sign if smoking is permitted was passed.

Another version of the broader bill emerged from the Senate on Wednesday and is headed to the House of Delegates.

"I'm a cancer survivor. My father has lung cancer," said John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), who is promoting the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, which would prohibit smoking in most restaurants that open after July 1, 2008. "I don't want to just say that the state's going to step in and make these sweeping changes in one fell swoop. But it's time to do something."

Philip Morris, the world's largest cigarette maker and perhaps the most powerful emblem of Virginia's tobacco heritage, has for years used its considerable resources to protect its interests in the political realm. Last year alone, Philip Morris's parent company, Altria, gave nearly $250,000 to Virginia candidates and committees, according to the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project.

The company chose in 2005 and 2006 not to lobby against proposed smoking bans across the nation, said Sutton, the company spokesman. Davis, the lobbyist, stopped attending the committee meetings at which lawmakers took up smoking bans.

It was a dramatic departure, and proposed smoking bans began popping up in greater numbers in Virginia, where lawmakers have historically stood among Philip Morris's most staunch defenders.

Instead of fighting such measures, the company began issuing statements such as this one:

"Philip Morris USA believes people should be able to avoid secondhand smoke, particularly in places where they must go, such as public buildings, public transit and many workplaces. They also should be guided by public health officials regarding the health effects of secondhand smoke."

Even House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, an anti-regulation Republican and self-described libertarian, is sponsoring a bill, the one that would require restaurants that permit smoking to post clearly visible signs near their entrances. Advocates of a ban don't think Griffith's bill would do much. But Griffith said it is a compromise that would spare most employers from burdensome regulation while protecting patrons.

"The people in my district want more restaurants that are smoke-free, and they are somewhat frustrated that a majority of restaurants haven't gone that way without government action," Griffith said.

Bans have gained in popularity more quickly in other states as awareness has grown about the health risks of secondhand smoke. After New York City enacted its ban four years ago, many jurisdictions followed suit, including a number of Maryland counties and the District, which last month extended its smoking ban to bars.

The pressure is growing in Virginia.  Doctors, cancer survivors, parents and others are pressuring state lawmakers to do something to protect them. And more and more lawmakers are listening.

"I know that Virginia was founded on tobacco," said Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr., a Republican from McLean whose wife, a longtime smoker, died several years ago of lung disease. "They came over here looking for gold, and they found tobacco, and it was good for them. It wasn't good for Virginians, though. The time has come to put an end to smoking in restaurants."

EVENTS of 2006:
While entire nations have gone smoke-free, in VIRGINIA (USA), America's birthplace of liberty, six apparent dictators have denied the freedom to breathe smoke-free air to an entire state.
  These six apparent dictators are members of a subcommittee of the General Laws Committee of the Virginia (USA) state House of Delegates and unanimously killed
changes to the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act which would have made restaurants smoke-free and required most workplaces to be smoke-free.  The current law, passed in 1990, is listed above.  Those six members are Thomas D. Gear, chair of the subcommittee (Republican, Hampton), David B. Albo (R, Springfield), Thomas C. Wright, Jr. (R, Victoria), John A. Cosgrove (R, Chesapeake), Ward L. Armstrong (Democrat, Martinsville), Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr. (Independent, Appomatox).  The Chairman of the entire committee who could have demanded that the entire committee vote on a bill of this magnitude is John S. Reid (R, Chesterfield/Henrico Co.).  An article on tobacco money received and two editorials are excerpted below.

Regarding the loss of increased health protections in Virginia,  February 2006, three articles and editorials are excerpted below.
Please note that tobacco money is not the only money trail to be followed.  Traditionally, in Virginia, the Retail Merchants Associations, the Virginia Hospitality Association, the restaurant groups, and the Chambers of Commerce have joined hands with the tobacco industry to fight protections against secondhand smoke.  Also, traditionally, the tobacco industry has not needed to speak out publicly for or against any bill -- their desires are made known often before the assembly even convenes the first session of the year.  Six apparent little dictators have denied Virginians, and tourists, freedom from the tyranny of smoke.  Hopefully, any groups wishing to hold conventions will choose to do so only in smoke-free states and smoke-free nations.

       Excerpts from an editorial in The Roanoke Times (Virginia, USA), February 25, 2006,                headlined, "A sensible ban up in smoke"
A House of Delegates subcommittee Thursday snuffed out a smoking ban passed
by the Senate, marking the triumph of a self-destructive minority over
public health.

Opponents of a smoking ban in most public indoor areas cited rights of
smokers and business owners.

But smokers' rights end at the lungs of nonsmokers. As Sen. Brandon Bell,
sponsor of the measure, said, "The bottom line is that we're not talking
about a smoker's right to smoke indoors. We're talking about my right not to
breathe in 4,000 chemicals and 60 known carcinogens that are associated with
secondhand smoke."

Non-smoking customers have a right to breathe safe air. So do non-smoking
employees. Business owners don't have the right to subject them to unsafe
conditions, and employees shouldn't have to choose whether they want to earn
a living or breathe fresh air. 

Excerpts from The News Leader, Staunton, Virginia, March 1, 2006, editorial headlined, Government by minority, writer not given.
This year, the House adopted a rule that allows subcommittees the power to
squash bills before they even reach consideration by full committee, much
less the House floor. The logic behind the procedural change is commendable:
Rather than bog the progress of legislation down further, streamline.
Unfortunately, that assumes too much; namely, that a group of six or so
individuals are going to give bills the same sort of broad-based and
impartial hearing they would receive if they proceeded to full committee

In the case of the public smoking ban, the process was poisoned further by
the fact that, according to records compiled by the Virginia Public Access
Project (www.vpap.org), three of the six members of the General Laws'
subcommittee that unanimously killed the bill were among those who received
the most money from the tobacco industry during the 2004-05 election cycle.
Two of the subcommittee's members also owned stock in Altria, Philip Morris
USA's parent company.

That's not exactly what we'd call an impartial group. They certainly don't
seem like a representative cross-section of the majority of Virginians who
oppose having to endure second-hand smoke while trying to enjoy a meal or
other activities.

If the House of Delegates wishes to streamline its work flow, it (and the
Senate as well) ought to consider giving up superfluous functions like
issuing proclamations on behalf of various individuals and groups. Those
honors are more suitably handled at the local level.

Giving six percent of the House of Delegates the power to decide issues
important to Virginia isn't representative government. It's railroading, and
it ought to be stopped.

Excerpts from The Virginian-Pilot, February 25, 2006, headlined, Panel that snuffed ban had strong tobacco ties, writer, Mike Gross.
The state senator behind a proposed smoking ban said Friday he was unhappy with new House rules that allow subcommittees to kill legislation and as a result led to the end of a bill for smoke-free restaurants.

The General Laws' six-member subcommittee that unanimously put out the legislation included three of the five delegates who received the most money from the tobacco industry during the 2004-05 election cycle, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that tracks money in state politics.

Two of the members also owned stock in Altria, the parent company to cigarette giant Philip Morris USA, according to the most recent financial disclosure forms available Friday.

According to the forms , Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax, received $10,000 in the last election cycle from tobacco companies and ranked second among all House members. Subcommittee member Del. Thomas Wright, R-Lunenburg, received $9,100, placing third. Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Henry, received $6,000, and was fifth on the top five list.

The only South Hampton Roads legislator on the subcommittee, Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, received $250.

The subcommittee makes up 6 percent of the House of Delegates but received 16 percent of the money the tobacco industry donated to House members during the last election, according to the Virginia Public Access Project .

The tobacco industry historically is a frequent donor to state campaigns.  Even Sen. J. Brandon Bell II, R-Roanoke, the sponsor of the smoking ban bill, took in $1,000 during the current election cycle. Ninety-one of the 100 House members received some type of contribution from the tobacco industry during the last cycle.

Subcommittee members said the money did not influence Thursday's decision.

"When I start voting according to my donations, I'll get out of it," Del. Thomas Gear, R-Hampton, said this week.

In fact, many subcommittee members said they did not hear from the tobacco industry until a lobbyist from R.J. Reynolds spoke at Thursday's meeting.

Some members of the public, however, assumed a different role. After the Senate approved a broader version of the Indoor Clean Air Act on Feb. 13, both supporters and opponents of the ban inundated delegates with thousands of e-mails.

When asked about their position on the smoking ban Friday, a spokeswoman from Philip Morris USA referred to the company's Web site, which reads: "We believe that business owners - particularly owners of restaurants and bars - are most familiar with how to accommodate the needs of their patrons and should be awarded the opportunity and flexibility to determine the smoking policy for their establishment. The public can then choose whether or not to frequent places where smoking is permitted."

Del. Watkins Abbitt, I-Appomattox, is allergic to cigarette smoke and owns more than $10,000 in Altria stock. He said he didn't think about the investment during the vote Thursday, but he called the smoking ban "too broad" and said it went too far in regulating businesses. Besides, he said, evidence from other states showed smoking bans would not hurt tobacco companies financially.

Albo, while commending the intention of the bill, suggested similar legislation consider a more creative approach to encourage smoking bans, such as insurance incentives.

Still, Bell announced a last-ditch effort Friday. In a letter to House Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford, Bell asked the full General Laws committee to consider SB648 next week. He argued that any bill that passes the Senate deserves the courtesy of a full committee hearing.

Del. Jack Reid, R-Henrico, the chairman of the General Laws committee, said calling the bill before the full committee would be inconsistent with the rules.  [Not mentioned in the story is that Reid received money from the tobacco industry, as well as from groups that have traditionally backed the industry, such as the Retail Merchants Assn. of various areas, the Virginia Hospitality Assn., etc.]

[Virginia GASP]Updated 11 January 2008