Statewide smoking ban now in effect

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The state's new smoking ban is now in effect. Smokers and restaurant owners face a fine if they don't comply.

Lighting up inside most restaurants and bars will cost you and the establishment owner 25 bucks. Governor Tim Kaine says health inspectors will make sure people are following the letter of the law.

When Jason Marshall steps out for a bite to eat, he says won't mind having to smoke outside.

"I don't have a problem. I think it's better actually for people that don't smoke," said Marshall.

Governor Kaine says strong evidence about second hand smoke dangers led to the statewide smoking ban.

"We do regulate restaurants for all kinds of things. Why would we allow restaurants to continue to allow a situation where there would be a doubled risk of lung cancer," said Kaine at Hometeam Grill in The Fan.

Now smokers will have to take it outside like on the patio at Hometeam Grill if they want to light up.

State health inspectors will ensure the required "no-smoking" signs are up, ashtrays are out and smoking areas are structurally separate.

"Many restaurants were frankly waiting for this. They wanted to do it, but were afraid if they did it and their competitors didn't, they would lose business. Now it's the law for everyone. We're expecting near universal compliance," said Kaine.

Patrick Sanford says business improved at Hometeam Grill's west end location after it went smoke free 19 months ago. He says making both clientele happy is a work in progress.

"We very fortunate here in The Fan to have a 900 square foot patio and look forward to enhancing the experience for people who have to go out there and smoke," said Sanford.

Sanford says future plans may include enclosing the patio for smokers. Now police can also issue tickets to violators. Up to 25 dollars for both patrons and restaurant owners.

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