Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Scream Insanity!

Looks like Virginia doesn't want DC to beat it to the punch.

The Virginia Senate voted Monday to ban smoking in restaurants and virtually all other public places, an extraordinary sign of cultural change in a state that is home to the worldwide headquarters of Philip Morris and whose agricultural economy has been rooted in tobacco farming for almost 400 years.

The bill is unlikely to survive review in the House of Delegates. Yet its passage on the floor of the Senate -- where smoking has never been formally banned and lawmakers lit up openly even until the late 1990s -- signaled mounting popular support for smoking restrictions.

The chamber narrowly approved the measure after a short but intense debate over consumer choice and the public health risks of secondhand smoke.

Senate Bill 648, sponsored by a Republican from Roanoke, would make smoking illegal in all public workplaces with the exception of certain tobacco stores and offices. The prohibition would extend to bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.

Read again. Sponsored by a Republican. Not in all my years of watching Virginia politicians defer to the Tobacco lobby on just about everything could I ever have imagined something such as this. The House of Delegates, being down to the man a bunch of wackos, is unlikely to pass it as the piece points out. But it's surprising even the typically moderate and conservative Senate strutted forward and did this. It's appearing more and more that within the next few years the entire DC area may be smoke-free, not just the District itself and Montgomery Co.