Smoking Ban Effective Tuesday

Brent Finnegan -- November 30th, 2009

The law banning smoking in Virginia restaurants (that don’t have non-smoking rooms with separate ventilation systems) goes into effect tomorrow. There are two stories about the smoking ban in the DNR today. Finnigan’s Cove already has a non-smoking room with separate ventilation, so their smoking policy will remain unchanged. Jenny Jones reports that owners of Firetop Bar & Grill say they haven’t heard back from state health regulators on whether hookas are allowed under the ban or not, but they intend to keep serving hookas.

The AP reports that “about 70 percent of Virginia restaurants have already banned smoking on their own.”

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17 Responses to “Smoking Ban Effective Tuesday”

  1. Emo Boy says:

    From the VDH, FAQ’s

    How are hookah lounges and cigar bars affected by the new law?

    The ban applies to both hookah lounges and cigar bars if they prepare and serve food. There is no exemption in the law for these facilities. Their options are:

    * Cease preparation and service of food and serve only pre-packaged foods and bottled or canned drinks. Then the ban would not apply. However, if the facility has an ABC license, it may be affected.
    * Comply with the law by modifying the structure so the smoking area is structurally separate from the non-smoking areas and vent the smoking area to prevent re-circulation of air from the smoking are into the non-smoking area.

  2. Emmy says:

    Well I personally think it should just be banned period and I would guess a lot more places will just go that route after this. I don’t think the employees should be subject to the smoke any more than the non-smoking customers, but I think there should be an exception for places like Firetop because that’s kind of the point of going to a hookah lounge right? I wouldn’t go in there expecting to find a non-smoking area.

  3. Thanks for sharing that info, Emo Boy. Perhaps the owners haven’t seen that.

  4. Paul Garber says:

    It’s amazing that here in the Twenty-first Century, people still smoke. What a bunch of dumb asses.

    At least now, families will be able to go out together without having to endure the stench of these smoking morons.

  5. Paul, please respect the rules in red lettering below: No name calling comments.

  6. Greg says:

    I’m glad this is finally happening. My wife and kids have breathing problems if they’re in a smoky restaurant, and there are some places in town that we had to stop eating at because the non-smoking section was pretty much right next to the smoking section. If people can’t stop smoking for 20 minutes in order to eat a meal, then they have a serious addiction or some other issue.

  7. mikekeane says:

    Ugh the tyranny of ‘families’ and the safe-ication of America has got me down. I don’t smoke and I was happy when a few places I patronize no longer allowed indoor smoking. But banning Hookah smoke (which I also don’t smoke) seems ridiculous, further limiting business and personal freedoms. If a business wants to cater to smokers I think thats OK, even cigarette smokers. I think government should do what it can to discourage smoking since its proven to have negative personal and second hand effects but also allow for freedoms. Separate licenses make more sense – with stipulations such as no hookah bars next to day care, or no day care next to hookah bars, etc. I can’t really handle Finnegan’s unfortunately – its too smokey, completely over the top. Can’t someone make a functioning smoke eater? I really wish the Blue Nile did something about the cloud of smoke outside like just instal a fan to push it out. I can’t hang out outside with my friends- its too gross – I smell like I just came from Finnegan’s. I can’t even stop to say hi to friends – I run inside every time I walk down that ramp.

  8. Laura says:

    I think there’s a new hookah bar in town. It wasn’t open the last time I rode by. This new place is on Miller Circle in the old Russian Grocery, near the Skating Center, across from El Charro off South Main. Does anyone know anything about this place? Is this the same group that tried to open the Middle Eastern Restaurant/Hookah Bar (and found out they weren’t zoned for it after their sign went up) on South Main last year?

  9. Scott says:

    I don’t really understand who this ban is helping. I certainly get that restaurant employees shouldn’t have to be subjected to unwanted smoke, but in most of the restaurants where I’ve worked most of the staff smoked anyway. It is also not too difficult for an experienced server to find a job at a non-smoking restaurant if they so desire.

    It seems that if the majority of people would prefer a non-smoking restaurant or bar, and since we do live in something resembling a free-market society, that this problem would resolve itself without the government telling us to take care of it. If the 70% figure from the AP noted above is any indication, the trend is for more and more restaurants to push smokers to the sidewalk to get their fix. And if that brings in more business then that is great for them.

    As for those restaurants and bars that still allow smoking, maybe they have found a niche market of smokers who they are catering to. I wouldn’t exactly expect the Wafflehouses in town to start bursting at the seams with new customers after this ban goes into effect.

  10. JGFitzgerald says:

    The ban helps the restaurants and doesn’t hurt any of the groups involved. Think of it this way. In 1964 or so, before the first Surgeon General’s report, 50 percent of adults in pretty much all socio-economic strata smoked. Banning smoking in restaurants would alienate enough people to hurt business. Now, smoking is down to 23 percent of adults, and more likely among the poorer and more marginalized. Banning it might alienate 10-15 percent of restaurant patrons. But smoking in the restaurants might alienate that many as well. So it’s a wash for the restaurants. If the ban is introduced every year, then at some point the restaurants have no reason to oppose it. When it passes, those alienated by smoke may return, and those alienated by a smoking ban don’t really have a reason to take it out on the restaurants, because it is the legislature’s fault. The legislature doesn’t lose out because smokers mostly come from groups that are less likely to vote and, when they do, are not likely to vote based on their smoking preferences. It’s actually sort of elegant.

  11. Scott says:

    Joe,

    You definitely have a point there, but it is hard for me to believe that there is not a demand among those 23 percent of adults that has helped the small number of restaurants who have allowed smoking. I think that most savvy restaurant owners will strive to give their customers what they want if they intend to stay in business long. Some owners choose to allow smoking because in some cases it brings in more business.

    I was in a bar in Brooklyn shortly after New York introduced their smoking ban and observed an interesting business strategy. They had posted a makeshift sign on their window advertising that smoking was allowed there. The place was packed to capacity. And I imagine that they were not too concerned about fines as they probably could have paid them off with a small fraction of what they were pulling in that night. I don’t think that the bartenders or servers would have complained about second hand smoke either with the tips they were probably making. There were also several other bars on that block open to anyone who preferred a smoke-free environment.

    The point is that I think that it should be up to the business owners to determine what their customers want. I prefer to go to non-smoking establishments but have many friends who like to kill half a pack with a few beers. There is a demand for restaurants and bars that allow smoking and I believe that entrepreneurs should be free to take advantage of that demand.

  12. blondisez says:

    Scott — it stands to reason that if an establishment feels it has more financially to gain to stay ‘smoking’, then it will make the necessary changes (whether that’s building the proper area or, in the case of the hookah bar, perhaps going to a members-only status). And they’re welcome to do that.

    But keep in mind that ‘bars’ – ie., standalone establishments that primarily exist to serve alcoholic beverages, not food — don’t legally exist in Virginia because of the ABC regulations. If you want to join your buds at the bar, then you need to either belong to a private club or go to a public restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages.

    I see this more as a workplace health issue: in this economy, if a restaurant worker develops an allergy to cigarette smoke or becomes pregnant, the thought of finding a new job is not a viable option. However, as a former two-pack-a-day smoker, I can vouch for how little current smokers realize how noxious the habit is for non-smokers. I, for one, am grateful that I can go out to eat somewhere and not have to worry about second hand smoke making my meal much less palatable — whether that’s at Mickey D’s or Local Chop and Grille.

  13. Scott says:

    Blondiesez,

    You make some really valid points about workplace health issues. I think that is probably the most rational argument I can imagine for getting rid of smoking in restaurants altogether.

    I’m curious about the comments about being able to enjoy a meal in a smoke-free environment. This type of comment has come up several times in this thread and it seems to me that most of the restaurants in town have been smokeless for some time. Out of curiosity, does anyone actually feel like they are very limited in dining options by the availability of smoke-free restaurants/areas? Are there restaurants in town (I assume that Dave’s will come up) that you avoid because of the smoke?

  14. Scott says:

    I realize it is obvious that there are places that many people avoid because of the smoke. What I’m wondering is if there are places that you would like to go but have avoided due to this issue alone and which ones they are.

  15. BANDIT says:

    So, it’s alright for the government to get involved with “no smoking ban”…. for health reasons however, most of you think it’s not OK for the government to get involved with a health care insurance program, so that everyone is covered….you just want to “pick & choose” to your liking?

  16. Scott says:

    I’m not really sure who “most of you” is, but your straw man is poorly crafted as I don’t believe blondie or I have ever commented on the health care debate on this site.

    For the record, I didn’t say that I believe it’s alright for the government to get involved in the ban for health reasons. I simply said that this was the most rational argument I could imagine, primarily because it effects the employees. Having waited tables for many years, however, I will say that I have never struggled to find a serving job in this town and just about every place I have worked has been non-smoking. I’m sure that probably isn’t the case in every corner of the state though.

  17. BANDIT says:

    Sorry Scott,
    My comment wasn’t directed at you or anyone else in particular.

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