This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Tomzak brings up smoking ban
Tomorrow night, council members will consider an item Mayor Tom Tomzak put on their agenda: a resolution that would ask the General Assembly to either ban smoking in indoor public places (bars, workplaces, restaurants, etc.) all over Virginia, or to give localities the power to enact those bans on their own.
The resolution cites recent polls that show that three-quarters of Virginians support such a ban, and research that has shown that secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health risks.
It says that Fredericksburg "desires to protect health, comfort and working environments of its residents and employees as they may be affected by smoking in various public place[s] in the City."
The smoking ban issue was mentioned this weekend in a column by Christina Nuckols of the Virginian-Pilot. She framed the issue as something House Republicans could shift their traditional position on to win back support from suburban voters:
"Proposals to ban smoking in restaurants and bars poll at 70 percent or better, and the enthusiasm is especially keen in the suburbs. The trouble for Republicans is this get-out-of-the-doghouse-for-free ticket comes with a side order of humble pie.
For years, House GOP leaders have shepherded every smoking ban bill into a six-person subcommittee stacked with tobacco-friendly lawmakers and conservatives opposed to any restriction on individual liberties. The panel methodically kills the bills without allowing a vote before the full General Laws Committee."
Incidentally, the new Capital Ale House restaurant that the council subsidized with tax breaks does allow smoking at its bar after 9 p.m. I was eating dinner there on a recent Friday night, and at the first waft of cigarette smoke, I checked my watch and it was 9 on the dot. When I walked in, before 9, I noticed a crowd outside the door and was at first afraid there was a line to get in. Nope, it was just folks outside smoking. Would the city need to widen its sidewalks if the ban passes?