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National Briefing / Virginia

Lawmakers pass curbs on smoking

February 10, 2009|Times Wire Reports

In a sign of how vilified smoking has become, lawmakers in Virginia -- where the world's largest cigarette factory churns out Marlboros -- passed curbs on smoking in restaurants.

The 59-39 vote in the House of Delegates approved a watered-down bill that allows smoking only in private clubs, outdoor cafes, designated smoking rooms and establishments that are off-limits to minors.

The proposed penalties are hardly draconian: a maximum civil fine of $25 for smokers or restaurateurs who defy the law.

The bill already exempted private clubs and outdoor patios.

It was further diluted by Republican amendments that would allow smoking in any establishment off-limits to minors and in any restaurant rented for a private, invitation-only event.

The Republican amendments now send the bill back to the Democrat-dominated Senate, where it faces a dubious fate.

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