In an effort to protect people from the effects of secondhand smoke, the Virginia State Senate voted yesterday on three bills to ban smoking in nearly all public places, including restaurants.
The Senate voted 23-15 to ban smoking in public places, although each takes a different approach.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed legislation for a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants in early January. Senate Bill 501 adds a prohibition against smoking in any restaurant in the Commonwealth to the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, passed in 1990.
For the purpose of this legislation, the definition of a restaurant was changed to any food establishment where food is available for sale and consumption by the public. It includes the areas of a restaurant where food is prepared, served or consumed, but the bill excludes outdoor dining areas.
One of the bill's co-patrons, Sen. Ralph S. Northern, D-Norfolk, said he normally thought that less government imposition was better, but the government also had a responsibility t
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