Today, the Virginia Senate passed three different bills to ban smoking in public, each at a different level of restriction.
A complete workplace ban passed 23-15-1. A Restaurant only ban passed 28-10-1. And a local option ban passed 29-9-1. These numbers suggest serious momentum and are surprisingly in line with the opinion of the electorate. Recent polling suggests that 75% of Virginian’s want some type of smoking ban. Kudos to the State Senate for siding with the vast majority of voters. What’s even more impressive is the bi-partisan vote. I’ve been saying for years that this was not a Republican or Democrat issue. This is a public health issue that the voters want addressed.
One particular vote caught my eye. Democrat Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds voted against the ban. Deeds has a spotty record on this issue, having voted against it, then voting for it and now back to voting against it. My guess is the hospitality industry, which has been equally fickle, put some pressure on him. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that opposing the ban is not a smart political position for someone running statewide in 2009. The ban is supported by the majority of Republicans and the overwhelming majority of Democrats. This could be Deeds' Achilles’ heel.