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The Blue & Gray Press | December 15, 2017

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Texting and Smoking Bans Need Beefing Up

Laws and rules affect college students in many ways, from the classroom syllabus to getting arrested for not-so-brilliant weekend decisions.

In these first few months 2009, several laws have been passed by the Virginia General Assembly that will surely have an immediate impact on the lives of all Va. residents, college students included.

On Feb. 24, Virginia lawmakers passed a law banning text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. According to a Roanoke Times article reported on the day of the Senate’s decision, violators will be fined $20 on their first offense and $50 the second and all following offenses. Violators may only be cited by police after being pulled over for a different offense.

Another recent change to Virginia law is a bill signed this month by Governor Tim Kaine that will ban tobacco smoking in restaurants and bars throughout the state. A March 10 Associated Press article found in the New York Times explains that smoking will be allowed in seperately ventilated rooms, private clubs and outdoor bar areas and that the law will go into effect on Dec. 1. A Feb. 16 Washington Post reported that violators would have to pay a fine of $25.

So how does the Bullet feel about these recent alterations to Virginia law, which will undoubtedly effect the lives of college kids, who are major contributors to both smoking and texting statistics? We feel good. In fact, we wish that the laws were stronger than they are.
Anyone who has witnessed first-hand the horror of a fellow motorist grazing the lines of their lane and promptly correcting themselves while their cell phone or Blackberry get the majority of their concentration knows how potentially dangerous it can be for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Will an occassional $20 or $50 fine really curtail the habits of the common text addict, who probably spends three times that amount monthly on their cell phone bills?

Similarly, will a $25 fine stimey chain smokers, even if it pushes them outdoors?

Smokers will most likely obey the law out of respect for the dining or drinking establishment or for fear of a fire, but will the law be enough to truly spare the public from unwanted second-hand smoke?

The Washington Post article also said that anti-smoking advocates are unconvinced that the law will be effective due to compromises in the writing that made its being passed possible.

They may be right.

While the laws are undoubtedly a step in the right direction, more can be done to keep people out of harms way and selfish habits.