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Restaurant smoking ban begins Saturday

Posted December 29, 2009

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— A statewide ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars takes effect on Saturday and businesses are taking measures to make sure their customers are aware.

Sammy's Tap & Grill, 2235 Avent Ferry Road in Raleigh, for example, is putting up a sign to let customers know that smoking is no longer permitted.

Owner Sammy Stephens said he doesn't support the ban but will comply with the law.

“We feel for the customer who smokes, but unfortunately we can't make the rules,” he said. “I believe in freedoms, and I believe in choices. So for me to say, ‘You can't do this, but you can do that,’ you know I don't think that's the way we operate here."

Stephens is not alone in his views on the smoking law.

“I think the individual restaurant owners ought to be able to make their own decision whether they want smoking,” restaurant patron Ron Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said the ban will actually stop him from going to a bar or restaurant frequently.

“It will definitely cut down on it,” he said.

Group of Wake County Health Leaders Support Smoking Ban Smokers have to take it outside

State Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, voted for the smoking ban, citing the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.

“It's about public health. Places where people go out in the public should be safe for them and for their children,” Ross said.

Those in support of the ban say the time was right for North Carolina to go smoke-free.

“Personally, I like the fact that there's not going to be smoking,” restaurant patron Frank Milchuck said.

“People adapt very quickly. They know what new rules are, and they generally will abide by them. And I think everybody will be healthier for it,” Ross said.

Tegegne Wondafrash, owner of the Harrar Hookah Cafe, 2109 Avent Ferry Road in Raleigh, said he plans to keep selling tobacco after the law takes effect. He questions why the law should apply to his business.

“Exclusively, this place is a tobacco place. People are coming here to smoke tobacco only. So we should be exempt,” he said.

Wondafrash said he has spoken with some other hookah bar owners and they plan to appeal if they get fined.

Businesses that break the no-smoking law can be fined up to $200 per day, and smokers themselves could get burned with a $50 fine if they keep puffing after they're told to stop.

Enforcing the law will be driven by complaints from the public.

To file a complaint, people can call the local health department, complete an online form at the SmokeFree.NC.gov Web site or call the N.C. CARE-LINE toll-free at 800-662-7030.

Inspectors will give a restaurant at least two written warnings before imposing a fine.

Non-profit private clubs, country clubs and cigar bars are exempt from the smoking restrictions. In order for a cigar bar to qualify for the exception, it must satisfy a list of criteria.

186 Comments

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  • WXYZ Dec 31, 2009

    Finally! Also, not just for the benefit of restaurant patrons, but more so for the employees of those businesses who would have to stand and walk through those malodorous clouds of visible and invisible smoke. Closely controlling or eliminating this obvious workplace hazard is certainly to the benefit of all. The human race has relied upon burning as a source of heat, means of cooking and as symbolic gesture for thousands of years--mostly because there was no other choices. Inhalation of smoke, whatever the type, should to the majority of rational and educated humans, be an obvious hazard to health. Now, we can cook food, heat our buildings and do many other things with little or now smoke. Reduction in water, soil and atomospheric pollution has been extremely successful over the past 35 years. Now, all that remains is to restore and maintain the planet's ability to recycle carbon: e.g. set goals for increasing the density and distribution of CO2 absorbing plants.

  • nosuchmiracles Dec 31, 2009

    gatorfan way to go off topic. Everyone who says this law is unconstitutional and what have you obviously haven't looked and seen that the MAJORITY of states have done this. THANKFULLY I no longer have to be around your stinch and filth.

  • gatorfan123 Dec 30, 2009

    What part of privately owned business do you not understand? You must live in Chapel Hill and have illegal aliens cleaning your house and working in your yard! If so, what part of illegal aliens do you not understand? Because it will be the law, I will abide by it. The law of the land is not to hire illegal aliens. Do you abide by it. The speed limit is 55, do you "ALWAYS" abide by it. If no then you are breaking the law, plain and simple. I thought not! Are you sure that your president has stopped smoking in the White House? The ultimate "PUBLIC' place!

  • LocalYokel Dec 30, 2009

    despicable smoker gatorfan123, If you assault someone on private property would it be OK? Just because its privately owned business at a location doesn't mean you can do whatever you want at that location.

  • gatorfan123 Dec 30, 2009

    The one part of this discussion fails to recognize one important factor, that a restaurant or bar is not a public place. It is a privately owned establishment. Nothing more, nothing less. If the owner of said privately owned establishment wants to allow smoking, so be it. If a customer does not want to be subjected to to secondhand smoke, then go somewhere else. It is no different than a TV show or radio station. If something offends you on TV or Radio, then don't watch or listen to the show in question. Yes, I am a dispicaple smoker. I go to restaurants and bars from time to time that already do not allow smoking. It has always been their perogative, so I adapt because it the owner's decision. If I just have to smoke, then it is my decision (and my decision alone) to patronize those establishments. Plain and simple! The only way that I see this law being constitutional would be if Federal/State/Local government had a controlling interest in said businesses: see GMC.

  • Frank Downtown Dec 30, 2009

    This is not going to hurt any business. California and New York both have these laws.

  • LocalYokel Dec 30, 2009

    Most people don't smoke and most people don't want to be around smoke. This is why we have created this great new law. If your a smoker, we don't want you around us. Its that simple.

  • grant Dec 30, 2009

    When you invade private property with your laws you deserve to be shot. Think second hand smoke is dangerous, try the business end of a 45. PUBLIC = will of majority, PRIVATE=If you dont like it, leave. Why do so many morons demand to go where their not wanted and try to control what goes on there?

  • mrbigt032j Dec 30, 2009

    most people want get cancer from someone smoking in a restaurant or bar but chances are they will get kiled from some drunk driving home that smoke free restaurant or bar

  • stevenkirkland Dec 30, 2009

    I agree deedee. However it won't happen. You might get the 5 bucks a pack but never the tax on fast food or alcohol. Thats part of my beef the smokers will once again be vilified while the fat alcoholic gets to keep on keeping on. If we are going to tax vices tax em all not just the ones that you don't like

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