Smoking ban passes house, Ready for Kaine's signature

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Kaine says that he will sign the bill passed Thursday by the House of Delegates. This new law will ban smoking in all bars and restaurants except those that are private or have separate ventilated rooms.

It is a much stronger version of the proposal that was watered down by house members just a little over a week ago. But supporters and opponents of the concept said that the overwhelming public support for the idea was too much to ignore.

"The popular sentiment on this is moving strongly in the direction indicated by the margin of passage today and clearly helped from two years ago until now you know, move some votes into this victory camp today," said Governor Kaine.

Just a year ago, a bill like this couldn't even reach the house floor. Thursday it passed by a margin of 60 to 39. Hanover delegate Chris Peace voted against it, but recognizes how the majority of Virginians feel.

"The vote reflects that maybe two thirds of Virginians actually believe that this is a good direction to go in," said Chris Peace.

That put many republicans in more moderate to liberal parts of the state are in a tough position. Democrats were able to convince just enough of them to move to their side. While the majority of Virginians maybe like this move, Del. Peace isn't sure they live in his district.

"We have a rural community and we have folks that go to certain places because its smoking and we think it is a freedom and liberty issue and people should make their own choices," said Peace.

But now that the law is just about through, Governor Kaine believes the results will keep people from turning back what he sees as progress.

"Once it happens you don't see a move to go backwards and I think it is because people will get the experience and realize that this a good thing for health and just for aesthetic enjoyment of people eating out," said Kaine.

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