VIRGINIA BEACH–The state-wide smoking ban is just around the corner. On Dec. 1 most bars and restaurants will be required to have a non-smoking section, but some restaurant owners are finding creative ways around the restrictions.
At Poppa’s Pub in Virginia Beach, owner Randy Estenson has spent months trying to construct a non-smoking section. He’s worked with the Virginia Beach Department of Health to design the new room. This week a contractor started closing it off.
“It’s been a very big hassle,” said Estenson. “I spent a lot of time and effort trying to get everything approved before I actually did construction.”
As required by the law, the non-smoking section will be walled off, have a separate ventilation system and a door to the outside. But the room is only 13 x 15, which is about 6% of the entire bar and restaurant. It has about 4 tables in it and a television.
“I don’t know how many people are going to actually end up being in here,” said Estenson. “I imagine there will probably be a few, but I don’t think there’s going to be many at all.”
But Estenson says it’s worth it to construct the area so his other customers can keep lighting up.
“I’ve heard some people say they’re going to start coming here if their particular bar they’ve been going to doesn’t allow it,” explained Estenson.
Paddy O’Brian’s in Portsmouth will allow customers to cheap cigarettes on the patio, but will be completely smoke-free inside. Owner Joe Haskell says he didn’t have any other option because his restaurant is in a historic building.
“They would have to tear the building down,” explained Haskell. “Legislators don’t think of that when they pass laws. I question whether they think about anything sometimes.”
The ban starts Dec. 1. The state says inspectors will do spot checks of restaurants to make sure they’re following the new rules.
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