Local Politics

Poll: N.C. residents back limits on smoking, cell phones

Posted March 2, 2009

— A majority of North Carolina residents believe using a cell phone while driving should be illegal and that state or local laws should restrict smoking in restaurants, offices and other public places, according to a poll released Monday.

The wide-ranging Elon University Poll also found that a majority of residents back a government-funded universal health care system and exploring and drilling for oil and natural gas off the North Carolina coast, while opposing paying taxes on the number of miles driven each year.

For the poll, 758 adults were surveyed statewide between Feb. 22 and Feb. 26. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents said using a cell phone while driving decreases highway safety, yet more than half who own cell phones say they make or receive calls while behind the wheel – only a third of them said they regularly use hands-free devices. Two-thirds of those surveyed said using cell phones while driving should be illegal.

“Though they recognize that it is dangerous and confess to doing it, citizens apparently won't stop driving and talking unless a change in the law forces them to do so,” Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they would support a state law prohibiting smoking in public places, and about seven out of 10 said they would support local smoking bans. Yet, 60 percent of respondents said any limits on smoking should be the decision of individual business owners.

"As the health implications of tobacco become more salient among citizens, support for anti-smoking policies continues to intensify,” Bacot said. “I suspect this may be the year that we see North Carolina go smokeless.”

In other issues, 66 percent of respondents said they support offshore oil drilling near the North Carolina coast, and 56 percent said they support nationalized health care insurance.

More than 75 percent said they don't like proposals to tax drivers based on their annual mileage. Several politicians and transportation consultants have suggested such a tax to replace state and federal gas taxes.

Three in four respondents said they support commuter rail systems in urban areas of the state, and 69 percent said they would like a regional rail operation in their area. Fifty-seven percent said they would support a local half-cent sales tax to fund such transit systems.


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  • Bill Brasky Mar 3, 2009


    How do you know how much food thepcdoc10 eats?

    By the way its a fact that second hand smoke causes cancer...try to keep up!

  • raleighpackfan11 Mar 3, 2009

    thepcdoc10 - Do you really think you are going to get cancer from second-hand smoke? Do you spend so much time out in smoky bars and restaurants that this concerns you? I'm guessing you aren't a real doctor and therefore cannot speak to toxicity levels of secondhand smoke and how non-quantifiable exposure to that correlates to lung cancer rates for the non-smoking, restaurant patron demographic. Maybe you should worry more about all the money you spend eating out or the caloric intake from the larger portions of food served in the typical American restaurant of which you frequent. You will likely first be consumed by the crushing weight of your own self-absorption, so I wouldn't worry about secondhand smoke.

  • ghwhitaker1_old Mar 3, 2009

    "thepcdoc10": This Country has gotten along fine for well over 200 years without people like you trying to tell people like me what we can and cannot do on the property we own. The legitimate solution you are seeking is simply this; if you do not like the smell of smoke in a restaurant, go find one you like. No one is forcing you or anyone else to go to a particular restaurant, and neither you, nor anyone else has any right to tell a private property owner what he can and cannot do on that property. Period!

  • thepcdoc10 Mar 3, 2009

    "How how about those women who feel they have to use an entire bottle of perfume when they go out? How about the family sitting next to your table with 4 loud children. Or how about the 6 drunks at the next table?"

    What are you KIDDING ME? SUPERMAN you seem to be missing the point. At least the lady with the perfume, the family with the loud children and the 6 drunks at the next table won't KILL you! Driving drunk will, but, oh yeah, that is illegal too. Hmm, it's not just that breathing in second hand smoke is flat out nasty, it also poses a health risk, unlike your silly comparisons. When smokers and pro-smokers rights folk can legitimately come up with an intelligent rebuttle I would like to hear it. Otherwise, give up!

  • superman Mar 3, 2009

    If you go to a bar or place that has smoking-- you always have a choice-- dont go back. If they lose business they can change their smoking policy. How how about those women who feel they have to use an entire bottle of perfume when they go out? How about the family sitting next to your table with 4 loud children. Or how about the 6 drunks at the next table? Life is so cruel sometimes. The poll amounts to nothing-- laws do not get passed according to the polls. The laws are always self serving to the people who make the rules for the rest of us. The money the state receives for the tobacco tax will soon dry up and thankfully, those of you who oppose smoking will see your taxes rise. You will be very happy.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 3, 2009

    seeingthru - if your definition of leading is living under the BOOT of a Government, then I guess you have a point.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 3, 2009

    awokasch - you are one of the dangerous ones and you should not be behind the wheel. Get a bike or walk so the roads are safer for the rest of us that actually pay attention to our driving.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 3, 2009

    seeingthru - consider how many people are receiving free health insurance on the backs of smokers. Guess who will pay for it when the Government kills this industry. Smokers should have free health care from the top hospitals and doctors in the Country. They paid for it already.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 3, 2009

    Bill Brasky - whether you get Cancer or not mostly depends on your Genetics. If it is in your family, you will likely develop cancer.

  • Road-wearier Mar 3, 2009

    FACT: Bars in New York City saw business *INCREASE* when smoking bans went into effect. I have had several bar owners in Montgomery County, Maryland tell me the same. Non smokers like my wife and I will not go into bars or restaurants where smoking is permitted or can be smelling in the no smoking section. We don't like to smell like an old ashtray. If businesses want to increase business, support the ban.

    Bar/restaurant owners won't ban on their own - they're terrified of chasing off the smokers. For some reason they perceive them as being more of their business than the smokers actually are.

    My own ban in my home? Making my mother in law fire up outside. THAT takes more guts than supporting a smoking ban....