Assembly Rejects Intrusive and Overly-Broad Amendments to Smoking Bill

Delegate Peace joins fellow legislators to preserve free market and personal responsibility Delegate Christopher K. Peace voted to reject the Governor's amendment to HB 2422, a measure to prohibit smoking in restaurants in the Commonwealth unless a restaurant posts signs stating "Smoking Permitted" conspicuous to ordinary public view at each public entrance.

The Governor's changes would have had far-reaching consequences; his Amendments would have banned smoking everywhere there is food except for private residences - but including VFW, Masonic lodges, American Legions, Ruritan events like Shuckinpull or Steak N Race, Rotary benefits.

Peace voted in favor of House Bill 2422 when it was before the House of Delegates. The legislation would have made "no smoking" the default policy of restaurants in Virginia. Under the bill's provisions, smoking would only be allowed if a restaurant posted a sign at all exterior entrances stating "Smoking Permitted."

By adopting this policy, the legislation would allow market forces to encourage more restaurants to go smoke free while not imposing a blanket government ban on all establishments. In the 97th District, there have already been market forces at work, as an ever-increasing percentage of restaurants opt for "no smoking" policies.

The Governor's amendment to this bill, however, would impose a universal prohibition on smoking everywhere food is served, except private residences. This means that smoking would be prohibited at private catered weddings, even those held outdoors. Because food vendors participate in many large public events, smoking would be prohibited at street festivals like Hanover Heritage Day, Springfest or Fish Fry in King William County and the Harvest Festival in Bowling Green to name a few. Smoking would also be prohibited at other outdoor events like the Virginia State Fair and NASCAR races. It would even prevent smoking in hotel rooms if the establishment offered room service or at drive-in restaurants where the patrons remained in their vehicles.

"I am not a smoker, and, when dining out, frequently select restaurants I know to be smoke free. That is my right as a consumer. But, I am opposed to the imposition of a ban on public smoking - and, hence, an infringement on the rights of business owners - as far reaching as the one mandated under the Governor's amendment," said Delegate Peace.

Since the Governor proposed his amendment, Peace has been contacted by scores of constituents urging him to either support or reject it; the overwhelming majority asked the Delegate to oppose it.