Governor Kaine introduces legislation on banning smoking in restaurants

By Ashley Swann - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - This latest piece of legislation defines a restaurant as any dining establishment - public or private - where food is available for sale and consumption. It's a proposal that is once again polarizing the public.

"After eating a meal is when you like to smoke the most," says Bobbie Jo Lyons.
"I wouldn't go where it's really smoky just because I don't like it," says Billy Pyliaris.

The scientific evidence is indisputable. Secondhand smoke is not healthy. The Virginia Department of Health estimates it kills 1700 Virginians a year - and costs the state over a hundred million dollars. Which is why Governor Tim Kaine and some state lawmakers are aiming, once again, to smoke out the activity in restaurants altogether.

"Of course a lot of people are not gonna like'll benefit everyone," said Pyliaris.

But restaurant owners like Chris Lngdon, who are just trying to make ends meet, say a smoking ban, for them, would be financial suicide.

"That would definitely hurt my business and I've got a little business as it is," said Langdon.

What most upsets Langdon is that this proposal would apply to both public and private dining establishments. He had thought about becoming a private club if such a ban went into effect but with this legislation, it wouldn't matter.

"I don't think that's fair," he says. "I don't want to lose my livelihood."

Smokers like Bobbie Jo Lyons say they have no doubt a smoking ban will be bad for business.

"If  I go in and they don't have a smoking section, I would leave," said Lyons.

But non-smokers like Billy Pyliaris, a restaurant owner himself, say if the same rules apply to everyone - it shouldn't be an issue.

"As long as restaurants and night clubs have a level playing field, it shouldn't affect anybody adversely," said Pyliaris.

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