- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

Virginia lawmakers Thursday approved legislation creating a partial smoking ban in restaurants and bars, voting to restrict tobacco use in the state that was first in the country to harvest the plant.

The legislation’s approval follows extensive wrangling between the House and Senate over the extent of the ban and a compromise reached between Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, and Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

Insistence by members of the Republican-controlled House on amendments to the legislation — including a change weakening a requirement that smoking be allowed in restaurant areas separated by a door and independent ventilation system — led to lawmakers from both chambers entering into negotiations on the measure.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 27-13 Thursday in favor of a compromise report agreed to by the negotiators that allows smoking in separately ventilated areas and private clubs. The House approved the measure 60-39.

The legislation now heads to Mr. Kaine’s desk, who has pushed for a smoking ban.

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