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VIRGINIA HOUSE BACKS CHANGES IN SMOKING LAWS

The Virginia House of Delegates voted Wednesday to prohibit local governments from restricting smoking. In a compromise, the House limited the preemption to one year instead of two, and the bill would take effect July 1, instead of retroactively to Jan 1. The Senate must approve the changes. As part of the compromise, Delegate Bernard Cohen (D) of Alexandria, a leader for a clean indoor air act, says the tobacco industry agreed to meet with antismoking advocates to work out such legislation. He attributed the industry shift to strong public support for smoking restrictions. Several antismoking groups prefer to kill the bill and will seek Gov. Gerald Bailies's veto. A bill banning municipal restrictions on off-the-job smoking passed the legislature.