Alexandria goes smoke free?
Different states have different rules for how autonomous cities can get with their laws. Virginia is one of those states where if the legislature in Richmond doesn’t explicitly say a city can do something, then the city can’t do it. Since Virginia has a booming tobacco growing industry, one of the things that Richmond hasn’t said cities can do is ban smoking.
But those wily Alexandrians have a plan. Taking a cue from DC, they are considering a ban on public smoking. How can they do this without the ok from Richmond you ask? By playing fast and loose with zoning laws. The Washington Post reported the other day that Alexandria officials are going to create a de facto ban on smoking with land-use permits. Richmond allows cities to issue permits for restaurants and businesses. So Alexandria figures that every time a new restaurant wants to open, the city can refuse to issue the permit unless the restaurant agrees to be smoke free. Existing restaurants wouldn’t be initially effected, but if they ever wanted to renovate or get their liquor license renewed they’d have to agree to go smoke free or risk getting shut down.
For a while, Alexandria will be a very uneven place, where new restaurants and bars will be smoke free, while older ones won’t. Probably a few stubborn owners will never go smoke free, or maybe the whole thing will eventually get struck down by the courts for being illegal. Maybe Virginia will change their laws and allow cities to ban smoking. It’ll be an interesting experiment.
What do you think? Should Alexandria ban smoking in public places? And do you think that they should be allowed to get away with it, even though the state government pretty much already said no?