Depression Sets in for Marlboro Man

Va. lawmakers OK partial smoking ban

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Lawmakers in tobacco-friendly Virginia have passed a partial ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, perhaps signaling an end to Philip Morris' domination of the commonwealth.

Lawmakers in tobacco-friendly Virginia have passed a partial ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

The measure restricts smoking to separately ventilated rooms in restaurants and private clubs in a state that has grown tobacco for 400 years.

The decisive 60-39 vote on Thursday was in the House of Delegates, dominated by Republicans who have battled against tobacco restrictions for years.

The Senate earlier voted 27-13 for the bill, which now heads to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who supports it.

There was no debate on the measure in either the House or the Senate.

"This is a major step forward for public health in Virginia," said Delegate David Englin (D-Alexandria), who introduced the House version of a statewide smoke-free restaurants bill. "Today's historic legislation is the result of years of hard work by public health advocates and a painstaking bipartisan effort this year in the House of Delegates."

The historic measure was a compromise between Kaine, a Democrat, and Republican House Speaker Bill Howell. It was substantially diluted last week by House Republicans.

Kaine had supported a total ban of smoking in all restaurants. The compromise effectively guarantees that smoking will not be totally eradicated in Virginia taverns and eateries for years, if not decades.

So revered is tobacco that frescoes of the golden leaf are painted on the ceilings of the Capitol Rotunda. The crop was a mainstay of the earliest Virginia settlements, dating to Jamestown in 1607. Marlboro maker Philip Morris operates the world's largest cigarette factory a few miles south of the Capitol.

Twenty-three other states and Puerto Rico have already passed bans on smoking indoors at bars and restaurants. Maryland and the District passed similar restrictions on smoking in restaurants in 2007 and 2006, respectively.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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