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While researching Virginia’s recent restaurant smoking ban—hey, tobacco was the State’s #1 export until a couple of years ago, so give them a break for being behind the curve—I learned something new: There are no stand-alone bars in Virginia.


What it means is that in order to get a license to serve alcohol, an establishment must serve food and show a certain percentage of receipts from the sale of food. Establishments that serve food must provide a non-smoking environment, and can only offer a smoking area if it’s separately ventilated. Tricky, huh?

Yes, it’s safe to say I haven’t been bar-hopping lately, or I would have realized this. Not really since college to be specific, but that’s beside the point.

The point is…oh yeah, the point is that it’s the little things that can trip you up sometimes. I live in Virginia, but I couldn’t remember the specifics of the smoking ban with regard to the bar section of a restaurant. The fact that there are no stand-alone bars here was a throwaway line in the description of the smoking legislation, but I had to go back and fix part of my WIP because of it.

What are some surprising things you’ve found in the course of your own research?