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Smoking ban will get another look
Tom Tomzak’s request for General Assembly action on a statewide ban on smoking in indoor public environments was talked about last night, but not voted on.
You can read the original proposal here. Basically, Virginia localities can’t do anything the state doesn’t specifically tell them they can do, so Tomzak had proposed asking the GA to either ban smoking in public spaces statewide, or to give localities the power to do it themselves if they choose to.
Councilman Matt Kelly and Councilwoman Mary Katherine Greenlaw both questioned whether it was government’s job to tell private business and property owners what policies to set for their customers.
Both Kelly and Greenlaw said that it seems that most office building owners and some restaurant owners in the community have already decided–with out government telling them–to ban smoking.
"Business owners have come to the conclusion on their own … to do the responsible thing," Greenlaw said. "I don’t think it ought to be legislated."
Tomzak said he also considers himself part of the "limited government" club (And yes, this discussion of limited government did come right after the council voted unanimously to use its powers of eminent domain to condemn land for the "public necessity" of building a park.). However, he said, government (i.e., the taxpayer) is already picking up the tab for many of the healthcare costs of smoking.
Councilman Brad Ellis said he thought nonsmokers’ rights should be considered.
"Those who choose not to smoke should not be placed at risk in public places by those who do," he said.
Vice Mayor Kerry Devine and Councilman Hashmel Turner both indicated support for the ban, and Councilman George Solley suggested that the council narrow its request of the GA.
So instead of asking for either a statewide ban or local authority to ban smoking, they’re just going to ask for local authority, and the whole thing will come up again at the next council meeting.