Sunday, January 10, 2010

Virginia's new anti-smoking law

Finally, we can all breathe fresh air in restaurants. Smoking has been banned in restaurants across the state for a while now. I thought all was good, but the law has one exception: Smoking can still happen in a separate, ventilated room.

Seems innocuous, right? What do you think of when you think of a restaurant with a separate, ventilated room for smokers?

I think of a smaller space set aside for those less intelligent.

However, some restaurants are abusing this exception. One in particular is the Lazy Parrot Grill in Pantops Shopping Center. Their restaurant has three entrances, a bar, and some of the best wings in the city. Unfortunately, two thirds of their restaurant space is reserved for smokers. Those of us with a brain between our ears are exiled to the remaining cramped third of the restaurant.

It gets even worse. Their serving staff, whether they smoke or not (I don't know, I didn't ask) have to go through the smoking area to serve the higher lifeforms in the non-smoking area. This presents them with an unnecessary health risk.

This law needs to be amended immediately. It needs to require restaurants to devote no more than 50% of their serving space to smokers (this must be carefully worded to not have loopholes). It further needs to require an exit from the kitchen into both the smoking area and the non-smoking area. Last but not least, it needs to require separate serving staff for the smoking area and the non-smoking area; with no pay, treatment, or employment consideration penalty based on the server's preference.

Banning smoking isn't about taking away freedoms. It's about public health. People in America are notorious for not wanting the government to make their decisions for them. However, in most cases (this one included), those very same people don't have the requisite mental capacity to be making the decision for themselves.

On the other side (both the other side of Charlottesville, and the other side of the exception), Buffalo Wild Wings in Barracks Road Shopping Center is a fine establishment and thus gives non-smokers plenty of room.

Looks like I'll be going to Buffalo Wild Wings more often, because I want to support what's right.

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