Local News

Durham City Council Wants to Ban Smoking in Restaurants

Posted February 21, 2007

The Durham City Council next week will present lawmakers with a proposal to ban smoking in all restaurants in the Bull City.

The move comes after city leaders received dozens of complaints from residents.

"No one wants to walk out smelling like an ashtray and breathing in secondhand smoke, which we know how unhealthy it is," said Jayne Ardo, who favors smoke-free restaurants.

Currently, only state lawmakers regulate smoking bans in restaurants. The Legislature took that control away from local municipalities in 1993.

Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, said some legislators bowed to the power of big tobacco.

"People were simply saying, 'Well, it may not be healthy, but tobacco pays the bills,'" Luebke said. "But tobacco doesn't pay that many bills anymore. We're going to end up looking more like the 49 other states."

Opinions on the proposal are mixed.

Restaurant owner Gene Devine said he does not mind his restaurant being smoke-free but worries about its effect on business.

"If you're going to do it across the board -- fine. But how do you enforce it when someone says they're going somewhere else, because they're not enforcing it, and I lose business."

Others think nonsmoking sections are enough for restaurants and bars.

"It's a bar. You should be able to smoke at a bar," said Jeff Kessler, who opposes smoke-free restaurants. "If people don't like it, they should just stop crying about it."

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  • gvmtcheese Feb 22, 2007

    dndunn, would it not be easier for the non-smoker to just go somewhere else? I mean after all, no one is stopping you from eating outside are they?

  • gvmtcheese Feb 22, 2007

    lrmerc5757, FINALLY, the first decent suggestion of the lot. This discussion went into much length yesterday on the state bill in office right now. No one even came close to a suggestion that compromises on both sides. I think that would actually put the power back in the hands of the people. Owners could decide if they wanted a smoking establishment or not and the patrons could decide if they wanted a smoking place or not. To me thats a win/win. But as usual, the non-smokers will have something to say about it. You will probably see all of the health-fanatics out there pushing for a total ban, infringing on my rights as they have so graciously done for a while now. Great suggestion and compromise lrmerc5757!!

  • Tarheeljunior Feb 22, 2007

    Lulli and lrmerc, I feel bad for you that smoking is so important and has such a control that you think it would deter people if they could not smoke in a restaurant. If someone can't go more than an hour without a cigarette, then maybe they need impotus to stop. Lulli, if you want a cigarette after you eat, you can still go outside...you don't have to do it five feet from the person eating their food that doesn't want a cigarette. As a smoker, you do not want to be imposed upon by legislation...but how are the people in the non-smoking section supposed to feel when you light up a cigarette and they are in the middle of eating? Answer: They feel imposed upon. There is no perfect solution to who deserves more consideration, but it is easier for a smoker to take their cigarette outside than it is for a diner to take their dinner outside when a cigarette is lit near them.

  • Lulli Feb 22, 2007

    The state can do whatever it wants to. If this passes, it will just give me the incentive to prepare and eat my meals at home. Businesses will lose revenue. I will not patronize a business that will not furnish me a little corner next to the bathroom to light up. After eating, the first thing smokers desire is a cigarette!

  • lrmerc5757 Feb 21, 2007

    There are restaurants that are non smoking. There are restaurants that have smoking and non smoking and I have seen people that do not smoke set in the smoking sections and complain. Why not have restaurant thats has smoking only, so people that smoke can go out and have a meal without being treated like a outcast! People that smoke will continue to smoke and will not allow the state to tell them what to do. They will just eat at home.

  • Tarheeljunior Feb 21, 2007

    Smoking in bars will never be outlawed because it is a part of the culture of the business. However, food and smoke do not go well together, especially for the unwilling party in the non-smoking section that can still smell the odor from across the room. There are already restaurants in Durham that are totally smoke free and they do amazing business (Kemp's Seafood on Hwy 70 is a personal favorite) and the patrons appreciate the cleaner atmosphere. I hope this law passes.

  • NHFD 4030 Feb 21, 2007

    Smoking indoors in ANY and ALL public places should be banned. I am sure it won't be too long before it covers the entire US.

  • anneonymousone Feb 21, 2007

    I used to smoke---a lot. I consider myself a fairly bright person, but I had no idea how invasive smoke is until I stopped smoking.

    I truly thought that once smoke was not visible, it was not able to be smelled or able to offend in any way. _I_ certainly couldn't smell it (I couldn't smell much, but I didn't quite know that then.) This was also in the days before much research about second-hand smoke.

    Lifelong non-smokers, please know that smokers may really not understand how noxious and obnoxious smoke is after it leaves them. Smokers, please believe non-smokers when we say it's uncomfortable to be around smoke.

  • All child molesters should die Feb 21, 2007

    I sure do wish Raleigh would incorporate such a law! Even though some restaurants have smoke-free sections, it's still no different than smoke free rooms at the beach: Smokers go out on the balcony to smoke, and the non-smokers still have to smell it, and sometimes, without even going on the balcony.

    I sat in a smoke-free section once, but it was located right beside the smoking section! I had to ask to be moved.

  • Thomas Jefferson Feb 21, 2007

    I think you should have to declare your establishment a "Bar" or a "Restaurant". If you are a bar then you should be able to choose to be smoking or non. There is really no need to be smoking in restaurants.