Local Politics

Smoking ban heads to Gov. Perdue's desk

Posted May 13, 2009

— The House narrowly approved a broad indoor smoking ban Wednesday that was previously passed by the Senate, delivering another jolt to the tobacco industry that once was a key piece of North Carolina's economy.

House Bill 2, which lawmakers approved by a 62-56 vote, bans smoking in nearly all restaurants and bars. Private clubs and cigar bars are exempted from the no-smoking restrictions.

no-smoking Smokers burning over legislative ban

The bill now heads to Gov. Beverly Perdue's desk, and she said Wednesday that she was ready to sign it into law.

"Today is an important and historic day for North Carolina," Perdue said in a statement. "I have vigorously supported efforts to reduce and eliminate smoking, and this bill will help more North Carolina citizens avoid the dangers of second-hand smoke."

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman said the proposal is a good step toward protecting the public's health.

"Tobacco has a great legacy in North Carolina. It's done some great things, (but) certainly, people have a right to smoke-free air," said Holliman, D-Davidson, who has survived two battles with lung cancer.

Anti-smoking advocates praised the House's move while lamenting that some workplaces weren't covered by the bill.

"North Carolina restaurant and bar workers and patrons will be able to breathe easier at work and at play," Pam Seamans, policy director for the North Carolina Alliance for Health, said in a statement. "Although North Carolina did not achieve smoke-free workplaces for all employees, which was the original intent of the bill, (Wednesday's) vote marks a huge step in the right direction."

But others said the measure violated individual freedoms.

"This is a tobacco state. It built Wake Forest and Duke (universities). All of them, they were built with tobacco (money)," said Rhonda Selph, co-owner of Watkins Grill on Atlantic Avenue in Raleigh.

Selph said her customers appreciate the choice between sitting in smoking or non-smoking sections, and she doesn't want that option taken away from them.

"They're regulating everybody. It's getting worse and worse," she said. "They're stomping on everybody's rights. We don't have rights anymore. It's really upsetting."

State Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said he agrees with critics that state lawmakers crossed the line with the smoking ban.

"If someone owns a piece of property, and if it's a legal process – if it involves a legal activity – they should be allowed to do that," Hunt said.

Bar owners react to smoking ban

Some bars owners said Wednesday evening they should be able to choose for themselves whether they want to welcome or turn away smokers.

"I find it rather annoying that they're going to turn me into the police,” said Van Alston, owner of Slim's bar.

Alston opened Slim's Downtown, 227 S. Wilmington St. in Raleigh, 10 years ago. He said the smoking ban is nothing short of the long arm of “Big Brother.”

“Already, you can't smoke pot. So, we don't allow pot smoking in here. But cigarettes are a legal product. I see no reason why on my private property, I can't allow patrons to smoke a legal product,” Alston said.

Bar owners weight in on smoking ban Bar owners weigh in on smoking ban

Steven Adams owns the Peak City Grill and Bar, 126 N Salem St. in Apex. The ex-smoker prohibited smoking inside his establishment when he opened three years ago both because 80 percent of the public are nonsmokers, but also out of concern for his own health and that of his workers.

“If you assume one out of four people smoke, I’ll go for the other three and it has paid off,” Adams said.

The non-smoking atmosphere is why Judy Hendrickson said she likes Peak City.

"I have allergies and cigarette smoke, or tobacco smoke of any kind, is a real problem for me,” Hendrickson said.

Patrons will be allowed to smoke outside, but Alston said he think the smoking ban will eventually hurt his bar business.

“If people have to stop drinking to go out and smoke a cigarette, that's less they're going to be able to drink,” Alston said.

“I’m going to miss it personally,” patron Rhoda Bruington said of smoking inside Slim's.

The law would allow fines of up to $50 for smokers who keep puffing after being asked by an establishment's managers to stop.


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  • gatorg89 May 19, 2009

    I can't believe, in the year 2009 people STILL DON'T GET IT. How could one NOT want a smoking ban???? Do you people not realize that 2nd hand smoke KILLS..............if you want to smoke and continue to do so knowing THE FACTS that SMOKING CAUSES CANCER...........THEN SO BE IT. However, you can't seriously believe that you are not harming that person sitting next to you while you are smoking? SERIOUSLY???

  • nothankyou May 15, 2009

    "I would be willing to bet that a large majority of the people in here complaining about how the government is infringing on their rights -- and the rights of smokers -- are the very same people who also support a constitutional (and other laws) banning same-sex marriage." -wjcspanteach

    FABULOUS point! : ) : ) : )

  • Nonewsisgoodnews May 14, 2009

    "My Grandfather was in farming and smoked as well and it did no harm to me or anyone else in my family. A lot of my family smokes or smoked and lived long healthy lives so the second hand smoke theory doesn't float with me. -rcox"

    Some people are much more sensitive to carcinogens that cause cancer. Its not a case of survival of the fittest when its others that expose it to them either.

  • Nonewsisgoodnews May 14, 2009

    I'm being hard headed, but second hand smoke is still dangerous to those with asthma or allergies and there are more of those people then many would think. They don't really have a choice, they must avoid second hand smoke.

  • oldfirehorse May 14, 2009

    "It probably won't be a little citation. It could be public disturbance or civil disobedience even." ------ Huh? I don't understand; elaborate?

  • rcox May 14, 2009

    I am sick and tired of the government telling me what i can and can't do. What happened to this State??? My Grandfather was in farming and smoked as well and it did no harm to me or anyone else in my family. A lot of my family smokes or smoked and lived long healthy lives so the second hand smoke theory doesn't float with me. I worked in tobacco fields as a teenager so i know how much tobacco money built this state. How quick we forget that. It is embarrassing when someone from another state comes to visit only to find out that they can't smoke in a state rich in tobacco tradition. What happened to "God Bless America" and freedom of choice.

  • oldfirehorse May 14, 2009

    Whether it is the right thing or not is debatable, obviously. But, please, the real health benefit is to employees working for long periods in second hand smoke. For the average diner there is NO health risk, supported by the same science that second hand smoke is dangerous. Let's try to stick to the facts.

  • Nonewsisgoodnews May 14, 2009

    "I wonder who will be paying for all the smoker-police who will be running around issuing citations? -oldfirehorse"

    It probably won't be a little citation. It could be public disturbance or civil disobedience even. Either way, it worked in other states (even though they aren't Carolina), I wonder who will be ridiculous enough to try collecting citations because they can't eat or drink in a business and smoke at the same time.

  • oldfirehorse May 14, 2009

    I wonder who will be paying for all the smoker-police who will be running around issuing citations?

  • Nonewsisgoodnews May 14, 2009

    "Public businesses operate on private property. Just because you put a sign in your window saying "Open" doesn't mean that people have a right to be there. With your logic, I shouldn't have to pay to see a movie (I have a right to be there), people can bring their dogs into the grocery store, and if I want to drink my can of beer while sitting in Taco Bell I can. It simply doesn't work that way.

    Secondly, your "99% of the arguments against are plain pitiful" statement is subjective. -DougWare.net"

    Your right that the 99% comment was subjective like your 100% quip. It was an opinion, can't really put a percentage on that. As for public businesses being able to discriminate, I see your point but there is definitely a line there. Businesses do have the right to choose who they serve I think, but not when it has hidden health concerns. The laws against dogs, drinking in public, and now smoking are there because of public safety concerns. Very justified in my eyes.