The Governor of Virginia is in favor of a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. This would protect both the dining public and restaurant employees. In early 2007, a House of Delegates subcommittee rejected a bill passed by the Senate that would have made Virginia restaurants smoke free. Health groups are in favor of the ban but in Virginia business decisions trumped an obvious public health measure.
In June 2006 the U.S.Surgeon General reported that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke.
“U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona today issued a comprehensive scientific report which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.”
“The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults. “
Now local city councils in Hampton Roads are attempting to do what should have been done at the state level. They are attempting to ban smoking in restaurants. If the General Assembly is too afraid to pass this bill, they should at least allow the local city councils to act to protect the health of their citizens.
Persons who would benefit the most are restaurant employees who have no control over the air in their workplace. I certainly would not enter a smoke filled restaurant but the staff does not have that choice.