Local News

State Could See Smoking Ban in Public Places

Posted February 20, 2007
Updated February 21, 2007

— A smoking ban in tobacco country?

A bill filed in the state Legislature on Tuesday would ban smoking in public places such as bars, restaurants and workplaces across North Carolina. Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson County, House majority leader, is sponsoring the bill.

Holliman says it's no secret that second-hand smoke causes cancer and that the legislation's goal is to protect the citizens of North Carolina.

"I think it's a very good thing because a lot of people don't like to smell smoke," says Fred Breidt, who said he supports the bill. He was just one of dozens of customers enjoying a drink at the East Village Grill in Raleigh Tuesday night. The manager says about 75 percent of the customers are smokers.

Kurt Davenport has been smoking for the past 38 years. He says the government should leave smokers alone.

"It's my right to smoke wherever and whenever I care to," Davenport said, as he lit up a cigarette. The bill would prohibit smoking indoors with very few exceptions, for example bars that sell mostly alcohol and very little food.

"Why should we be subjected to the recycled filth of someone else's self-inflicted bad habit?" asked Roger Thompson, a supporter of the bill.

Bartender Joe Kirchgassner said he would be surprised if the law passes, but he doesn't think business will be hurt if it does.

"I think the people who smoke in here are going to come in and drink anyway. They are not going to not come in because they can't smoke. They can go out on the deck and smoke," Kirchgassner said.

Several states have already adopted similar smoke-free legislation, including Florida, Colorado and New York. New York State experienced a 12 percent drop in smoking rates the year the bill was passed.

Holliman said his bill will head to committee in the next two weeks and then go to the full House for a vote.

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  • lrmerc5757 Feb 22, 2007

    It will hurt businesses when the bill is passed. The owners will pass that on to the non smoking customers, a little at a time. If the state wanted to do something right for a change, have business to separate smokers and non smokers withe a wall and proper ventilation. One should be carefull and agreeing to government control. The next time it may be something you like to have. a right loss is a right you do not have even if you do not agree with it.

  • jc+rc Feb 22, 2007

    don't let anybody fool you when they say it won't hurt your business,it will take it from us.we owned a bar in conn.and no longer do.I was on radio and t.v. there trying to stop the ban.there is some easy sollutions but they won't listen.have a lot more to say but not enough time.fight and fight hard!!!!!!

  • lrmerc5757 Feb 22, 2007

    I wonder if only non smokers voted for the people in are government that want to ban smoking. I suggest that all smokers vote them out. After all they are suppose to be for everyone in the state

  • BIG YAWN Feb 21, 2007

    Red- actually the burden will fall on everyone, smokers included.

  • Red Feb 21, 2007

    If you want to smoke so bad, might I suggest some gasoline and a match?

  • gvmntcheese Feb 21, 2007

    Give me cigarettes or give me death!!!

  • Red Feb 21, 2007

    carons3 - You would still have the same argument that we have here. Smokers would claim their rights are being violated, regardless if it's a property owner or the government. Although the health rating idea is a good suggestion.

  • carons3 Feb 21, 2007

    What confuses me here is that this bill would ban smoking in public places... Since bars/restaurants are PRIVATELY owned, then shouldn't that decision really be up to owner of the establishment?

    Here is a thought... Leave the decision on whether or not to allow smoking up to the owner. Make the smoking option part of the health rating system for the establishment. Its always better to reward the positive rather than punish the negative. Make it so that non-smoking establishments get a few bonus point on their health rating...

  • Red Feb 21, 2007

    As for taxes on tobacco, yes, the burden would be placed on non-smokers if it were outright banned. But I have the feeling these statements are made as straw men, with the speaker not even knowing any facts of the matter. Not being one to take someone on the internet at their word, I have done a little research, as I encourage many of you to do. For 2005 North Carolina took in just under $39 million in cigarette tax. This excludes a few million more in other tobacco tax. For the 05'-06' fiscal year, the State took in $32.7 Billion in revenue. Of that $16 Billion came from General Taxes. $4.8 Billion was from Sales and Use tax. The cigarette tax accounts for 0.81% of the Sales and Use tax, 0.24% of General Taxes and 0.12% of Total State Revenue. It is quite literally a drop in the bucket. $40 million in taxes isn't that hard to make up elsewhere. It could for instance be recovered from health care payouts after all the life long smokers finally die.

  • BIG YAWN Feb 21, 2007

    bdl- you still trying to ignore me? :- )