A statewide ban on smoking in restaurants will go into effect today.
The ban, signed into law by Gov. Tim Kaine in February, includes “any place or operation that prepares or stores food for distribution to persons.”
Restaurants may still allow smoking, but only in walled-off areas that have separate ventilation so that air from the section does not circulate to non-smoking areas.
However, the smoking ban does not apply to private clubs. Examples of private clubs include those run by organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars.
As a part of the ban, officials from the Virginia Department of Health will place no-smoking signs throughout restaurants and remove ashtrays from smoking-prohibited areas of restaurants. Compliance to the ban will be assessed during regularly scheduled health inspections.
Gary Hagy, director of the VDOH division of Food and Environmental Services, said that the department would work to educate restaurant owners of the law before referring them to local law enforcement.
Hagy added that most restaurants he had spoken with expressed excitement about the smoking ban.
“We think most of the restaurants are going to comply and be courteous to their patrons,” Hagy said.