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Virginia Restaurants Now Smoke Free!

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One area where I often find myself in disagreement with my Conservative friends is concerning smoking. As a former smoker for about 15 years and an ex-smoker for almost 25 years now, I really do not like to be subjected to a room full of smoke. I usually end up with a stuffy nose and a headache for a day or two.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully support anyone’s right to smoke, and would not support any laws that ban or outlaw smoking. What you do at home and on your own property is your business, as far as smoking, but I do draw the line at my nose – and lungs. And yes, I realize the business owner is being told what to do in order to accommodate non-smokers, but that is nothing new. As a business owner I must accommodate handicapped people with toilet facilities, rails and even light switches. If you own a private club, you are exempted. But if you are open to the public, that is another matter.

When my 5 year old son became ill after walking through the Richmond Airport, causing us to cut our West Coast vacation short, I began a campaign to force the airport to provide a clean air environment for their passengers. We had a “Clean Indoor Air Act” and I intended to use it.

The baggage claim area fit the description of an indoor service queue, yet had ash trays every two feet. I spoke to the Airport manager, and he agreed to remove the ash trays and put up signs.

The ash trays were removed in short order, but no sign was forthcoming. After numerous visits to the manager, and promises of “We are working on it”, he finally told me that the problem was with the wording of the signs.

I suggested “No Smoking”. He said Philip Morris did not like the negative wording of “No Smoking”, and they spent a lot of money at the Airport.

So, after a few months, the wording that appeased Philip Morris was finally ready. A dull gray sign with white writing was placed on the wall near the openings for each baggage belt. It read:

Smoking is permitted in all authorized areas. This is not an authorized area.

Silly, right?

But you still were forced to walk through the long corridors after going through security. It was just a bit too far to hold one’s breath. And it was this corridor that made my son sick.

I wrote letters to the editor, put up a web page and complained loudly and often at the Airport. I heard the nasty comments from fellow arriving passengers incensed that they were forced to walk through a smoke filled corridor to leave the airport.

For our next vacation, I called ahead and requested smoke free access for my son. I was told to simply use another airport, like Norfolk.

That did not go over well with me.

I managed to secure an interview on the Virginia News Network radio and actually found a cable news crew – Nic at Night News – and dug up an old WWII gas mask for my son to use.

And I called the Airport to let them know about the pending publicity.

I received a call back in a few days and it seems that the Airport had decided that they would take my son in an Airport Police car around security and screen him with a wand, if I would cancel the news crew.

I did.

That apparently was enough for the Capitol Regional Airport Commission, or C.R.A.C. (I swear I am not making that name up.)

I heard from a reporter at the Richmond Times Dispatch who was seeking a quote for his story. It seems that C.R.A.C. had voted to go smoke free at the Richmond Airport.

I was quoted in the story and given the title of “Local Anti-Smoking Activist”. Ughh!

But I was correctly quoted as saying that smokers still need a place inside of security to smoke. At the time, Atlanta and other airports had smoking rooms on each concourse.

Philip Morris did a good job with a smoking lounge. Not one molecule of smoke escaped from the room, even with the door open. So, it can be done.

To tell me that I am free to not visit a favorite restaurant because I do not like the smoke is like telling me I am free to not drive if I do not like drunk drivers. Few would argue that one’s right to drink extends to driving drunk. And you can be arrested for your conduct when intoxicated.

The point is, when your right to do something infringes on other’s rights, then you must make accommodations for others. Just as it is your right to drink, you cannot bother others with obnoxious conduct, or drive under the influence.

And if you are unable to go an hour or so without a cigarette during a meal in a restaurant, then try a patch or nicotine gum. Or step outside.

I am really looking forward to enjoying a meal without a stuffy nose and a headache. And actually being able to smell the food, instead of smoke, is a welcome benefit.

And I am sorry that my friends who smoke must make a small sacrifice so that those who dislike the smell of smoke can enjoy smoke free meals. I still support your right and your freedom to smoke, I just feel my right to breathe clean air is a bit more important.

And I appreciate your sacrifice (even if it is against your wishes).

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog.

Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

3 Responses to “Virginia Restaurants Now Smoke Free!”

  1. Jonathan Scott says:

    I tend to agree with much you say here Tom, but feel the State lost a real opportunity to address serious budget concerns by creating a revenue stream very similar to the VABC permit policy for alcohol sales in bars and restaurants. Those entities are charged a permit fee based on on/off premise as well as size. The State could have allowed bars and restaurants the opportunity to remain as a smoking establishment had it paid for an annual permit to do so. The number one complaint for business is that the ban will reduce sales. This would have given them the opportunity to put up the fee if their sales arguement is valid.

  2. Jonathan Scott says:

    The ban also proves governments own ignorance when it comes to legislational impacts down the road with regarding to funding the budget. For example, we have a Federal government wanting more green cars, hybrids, etc thus lessoning gasoline sales and lessoning those gas tax revenues collected to fund governmental programs. You have the government working against itself. Here with the ban, by reducing the “opportunity” to smoke in bars and restaurants you not only impact cigarette sales potentially and the revenues from the tax applied to each pack but also could keep smokers at home on Fri/Sat/Sun and not contributing to the local economy with patronage to to smoke free bars and restaurants. Again, legislation working against government’s own interests.

  3. Bigvinu says:

    Jonathan,

    But you assume that Government’s sole purpose is to turn a profit. That’s not the case. I believe promoting Public Health and protecting individuals from hazardous conditions they should not otherwise be subject to against their will is just as much what Government needs to be doing as making a profit. (That said, Government shouldn’t be too far in the red either, but we need to understand that our Government wasn’t created to be a company in which the Taxpayers invest it)

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    Tom White Says:

    Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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