Monday, September 22, 2008

Kaine Looking to Cut a Deal on Smoking?

Over at RK, Lowell looks ahead to the 2009 General Assembly session, examining the prospects for a statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants, and doesn't like what he sees:
Now, as 2008 winds down and we move closer to the last General Assembly session of Tim Kaine's governorship, this issue is back. Unfortunately, this time around, I'm hearing that Kaine is going to push for a half-measure that's worse than doing nothing at all: no smoking in restaurants, but only before 10 pm. After that, you can light 'em up! What I'm hearing is that Health and Human Services Secretary Marilyn Tavenner is currently pushing for this utterly ridiculous approach, despite vehement opposition from public health advocates.

Why is Gov. Kaine, who's been excellent this issue, going this route? Sadly, what I'm hearing is that Kaine has decided that getting something is better than nothing on this issue. One source puts it this way: "This is as weak and mealy mouthed as you can get, but Tim Kaine wants to be able to say he accomplished something on this, because he certainly hasn't yet." The problem is that if this completely inadequate legislation goes through, it will most likely mean no REAL action on a comprehensive smoking ban in Virginia for many, many years. Essentially, the politicians will be able to pat themselves on the back and say, "hey, we accomplished something!" Except that they really won't have; I mean, what's the point if everyone can start smoking again after 10 pm? Stupid.
I'd rather put up a full ban and lose than have some half-measure like this. With even places like Clarendon Grill voluntarily going smoke-free, the pressure is on smoking ban opponents to defend their continued blind allegiance to Big Tobacco.
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