The US state of Virginia has imposed a ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars as of midnight on Tuesday.
"December 1st is an historic day in that we are enacting a smoking ban across the Commonwealth, which is a tobacco state," Gary Hagy, director of the Virginia Department of Health's division of food and environmental services, told AFP.
AdvertisementOutgoing Governor Tim Kaine has called on state residents to dine out on Tuesday, "when the daily special will be smoke-free air," said Hagy.
"A lot of people are very excited. They've been wanting to go non-smoking but kind of needed a little reason to go non-smoking and this has provided that for them," said Hagy.
But Jimmy Cirrito, who runs a bar in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington, was less than happy with the new law.
"It's not really a ban because the Virginia government said if there's a separate room with ventilation and a door, people can smoke there. So there are bars all around me where people can still go and smoke. But I can't do anything to my bar -- it's in a 100-year-old building," Cirrito told AFP.
"And it's not as if I'm letting people smoke marijuana or do things that are illegal. I'm allowing them to smoke a cigarette that they bought in a machine in my bar or in the 7-Eleven across the street," Cirrito, a life-long non-smoker, said.
Virginia joins 27 other states and the US capital, Washington DC, in enacting legislation prohibiting smoking in restaurants.
But for Virginia, banning smoking carries great significance because the history of the state -- or commonwealth as it is called -- is inextricably linked to tobacco.
English settler John Rolfe -- who went on to marry Pocahontas, the native American princess -- planted tobacco in the settlement of Jamestown in 1612.
Two years later, the first shipment of Virginia tobacco was sold in London, and by 1639, tobacco had become the American colonies' chief export.
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