Va. restaurant smoking crackdown nets 13 arrests - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Va. restaurant smoking crackdown nets 13 arrests

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A police crackdown nets the first violators of Virginia's restaurant smoking ban.

Over the weekend, police nabbed 13 people at a group of Vietnamese restaurants in Falls Church. Locally, restaurants are making sure they don't end up on the wrong side of the law.

Tucked neatly in the back, down a ramp, and beside the bathrooms is the official "non-smoking" area at Caddy's, complete with its own ventilation. It may not be what the writers of the restaurant smoking ban had in mind, but it's perfectly legal.

"I think, pretty much, 85 to 90% of the people who come in here do smoke," said customer Mark Swerdlow.

Swerdlow, a smoker, keeps coming back because he likes the people and the atmosphere. But he's a little concerned that some folks, at least in Falls Church, are being charged by police for lighting up where it's no longer allowed.

"When I go out, and I'm at a bar drinking beer, I'd like to smoke," Swerdlow said.

The arrests in Northern Virginia are believed the be the first under Virginia's restaurant smoking ban, which took effect last December. They probably won't be the last.

"I'm sure there will be what we call a ripple effect," said Gary Hagy of the Virginia Department of Health.

Of the 23,000 restaurants inspected since December 1, 97.2% are following the new rules, Hagy said. Still, that means some are not.

"There are some [restaurants] that we know [whose owners] have said they don't intend to comply, they don't want to comply. And those are the ones that, if we know that, we've instructed our people to refer those individuals to law enforcement.

That won't be a problem at Caddy's, where health inspectors already have signed off on the new arrangements.

"I think we [smokers] have rights, too, but then again, people that non-smoke, they don't want to be around smoke," Swerdlow said.

Of the 13 people that police say were arrested in Falls Church, nine were for smoking in a non-designated area. Four were charged for allowing people to smoke. All of them face $25 fines. Police went to the restaurants after receiving complaints for several months.

The state health department does not have the authority to issue the fines. Enforcement decisions are made by individual police departments.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

  • Latest news from NBC12.comNEWSMore>>

  • The Latest: HHS says families won't be immediately reunited

    The Latest: HHS says families won't be immediately reunited

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 12:01 PM EDT2018-06-20 16:01:56 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 6:56 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:56:14 GMT
    (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File). FILE - In this Wednesday, June 13, 2018 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly session of PMQs at parliament in London. The British government is facing anoth...(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File). FILE - In this Wednesday, June 13, 2018 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly session of PMQs at parliament in London. The British government is facing anoth...
    British Prime Minister Theresa May says the United States is wrong to separate migrant children from their parents, but has rejected calls to cancel President Donald Trump's visit to Britain next month.More >>
    British Prime Minister Theresa May says the United States is wrong to separate migrant children from their parents, but has rejected calls to cancel President Donald Trump's visit to Britain next month.More >>
  • Heat add Tillman to Summer League roster

    Heat add Tillman to Summer League roster

    Friday, June 22 2018 6:20 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:20:55 GMT

    VCU forward Justin Tillman has agreed to play for the Miami Heat in the NBA Summer Leagues. The Heat are scheduled to field a summer league squad in Sacramento, Calif. July 2-5 and in Las Vegas, Nev. from July 6-17. 

    More >>

    VCU forward Justin Tillman has agreed to play for the Miami Heat in the NBA Summer Leagues. The Heat are scheduled to field a summer league squad in Sacramento, Calif. July 2-5 and in Las Vegas, Nev. from July 6-17. 

    More >>
  • AP Explains: Where do kids split from parents go?

    AP Explains: Where do kids split from parents go?

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 2:44 PM EDT2018-06-20 18:44:14 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 6:07 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:07:23 GMT
    (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool, File). FILE - In this June 18, 2014, file photo, two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on a television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed a...(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool, File). FILE - In this June 18, 2014, file photo, two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on a television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed a...
    The government hasn't worked out a streamlined way to reunite kids and parents separated at the border under the new zero-tolerance policy requiring all immigrants who cross the border illegally to be prosecuted.More >>
    The government hasn't worked out a streamlined way to reunite kids and parents separated at the border under the new zero-tolerance policy requiring all immigrants who cross the border illegally to be prosecuted.More >>
Powered by Frankly