Last week the Fredericksburg City Council passed a resolution asking the General Assembly to grant localities the power to ban smoking in public places such as bars and office buildings. Currently such power lies with the state, rather than the localities. Previous anti-smoking measures in tobacco-friendly Virginia have failed, so I'm not overly optimistic about this one.
One of the arguments frequently heard against such a ban is the nuisance and litter created by smokers gathering on the sidewalk outside of bars and restaurants. For example, The Capital Ale House is non-smoking until 9:00PM. As I tried to enter the establishment recently I had to push my way through a gaggle of smokers who had gathered right outside the entrance. I have to wonder how desperate these people must be for a cigarette that they must stop at their first step out of the door to light up. Yep, it's a downside to smoking bans, but I still prefer this aggravation to going home smelling like a dirty ashtray. Since we can't legislate common courtesy, the hassle of moving through the huddled mass of the nicotine dependent is a small price to pay for clean air inside.
The Free Lance-Star article about the council resolution is here.