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Smoking ban now in force in bars, restaurants

Posted January 2, 2010
Updated January 3, 2010

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— If you want to light up while sipping coffee at a diner or a beer at the neighborhood bar, you'll now have to take it outside in North Carolina.

Smokers have to take it outside Smokers have to take it outside

A new law took effect at midnight prohibiting smoking inside essentially all restaurants and bars in the state. The Legislature and Gov. Beverly Perdue agreed to the ban back in May. Enforcement began early Saturday.

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.

Smoking has always been prohibited at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe, at 222 Glenwood Ave in Raleigh. Co-Owner Brian Amra said Saturday that he is not surprised smoking is now banned at all restaurants and bars.

"We knew this was coming,” he said.

Amra said being smoke-free has not hurt business. Nevertheless, some restaurant patrons are not happy about being told they can't smoke inside.

"I don't like the government coming in and telling me what I can and cannot do," Chuck Farnhar said.

Farnhar, who used to be a smoker, said while he doesn't like the law, he does think it might do some good.

"There are better things to spend money on. ... We will all get healthier, they say," Farnhar said.

Outside restaurant or bar patios are exempt from the ban unless they have a roof and a wall or side coverings on all sides or all sides but one.

Sales associate Nelson Kent said the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Cary is seeing a surge in large propane heater sales. Restaurant and bar owners are buying the units in an attempt to take the chill off their customers as they go outside to smoke.

"Right now, we have some on order, but we are currently out of them," Kent said. "They don't buy just one; they buy multiple ones. That is why they are hard to keep in stock."

Nonprofit private clubs that serve food or drink such as country clubs and those run by fraternal organizations, such as Kiwanis and the Elks, largely can permit smoking. Hotels and inns can still set aside 20 percent of their rooms for smokers.

Cigar bars are exempt when they meet several requirements, as well as hookah bars that neither provide food nor operate a bar.

The owner of Hookah Harar Cafe, in the Mission Valley shopping center in Raleigh, said he believes that his business and others like it should be exempt from the ban.

To comply with it, though, he said he will continue to sell tobacco and allow customers to smoke in a designated area inside the store. No smoking will be allowed in his restaurant next door.

Health advocates say the ban will protect workers and patron from secondhand smoke inside pubs and eateries. The passage is another smoking restriction in a state that remains the nation's leading tobacco grower.

18 Comments

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  • lorivalentine1 Jan 4, 2010

    Good riddance to smoking indoors.. Now I can go to some of the places I would like without smelling like an ashtray or having an asthma attack due to the smoke and smell and they can still smkoe. outside. Win/win solution I would say.

  • Hammerhead Jan 4, 2010

    Well then, I think there are places you can go for that, it's called a monastery.

  • manofjustice Jan 4, 2010

    Hammerhead. I feel that smoking and all other bad things should be illegal. Inside or out. I don't agree with the smoking law. If you smoke outside it can still travel inside my restaurants and cause my chillrens to have lung disease. I don't like alcohol or anything that inhibits wrong feelings.

  • Hammerhead Jan 4, 2010

    manofjustice, they aren't banning smoking, just indoors. Do you get it now? Smoke all you want, just stop callously polluting everyone else's air.

  • manofjustice Jan 4, 2010

    I think they shouldn't stop at cigarettes. I feel they should ban alcohol and coffee and tea. I don't believe in any unnatural stimulants in the human body. I don't think that we should put pesticides on our vegetables and they should all be grown naturally and we should not eat animals. We should all be vegans. We should not drive cars anymore or ride airplanes because the emmisions are killing mine earf. We should not sit behind desks at work anymore because that makes us unproductive and fat and lazy. If we want to be a healthy society we need to live like the Amish. Getting rid of electricity would help us a lot. I am ready to live like the Amish. I want to live like a monk.

  • wp Jan 4, 2010

    It was so great going out Sat night and not have to do with smelling smoke at a sports bar!

  • FromClayton Jan 4, 2010

    but, had restaurants done a better job of actually separating smokers and non-smokers, -NCSUalumni2008

    Seriously! I dont know how many times the "non smoking" section has been right across a 4 foot walkway from the "smoking" section. Hello, smoke does not know about walkways...it floats where the wind goes.

    I am in the habbit of saying the "very nonsmoking section" when asked if i want smoking or nonsmoking. that way they seat me far away if they can. So glad I dont have to deal with that anymore. Thanks!

  • Hammerhead Jan 4, 2010

    smarterthanyou, what do you expect? It's denial of a serious addiction. Gotta have my cigarettes!!!!!!

  • smarterthanyou2 Jan 4, 2010

    I think it's hilarious how the world of smokers has been shook up by this law. For decades, smokers have been polluting the air and stenching the clothes of the non smokers whereever they happen to be. Now, they can still enjoy their night out, they just have to step outside for a few minutes to kill themselves in between conversation and drinks while those of us who don't want to pollute our bodies can carry on accordingly. AND WERE THE BAD GUYS. Rofl. Serves you guys right. Maybe if enough of you didn't think bars, let alone restaurants, was free reign for you to spew your stench and posion into the air and voluntarily taken it outside, the majority wouldn't have forced legislation. Good riddance.

  • NCSUalumni2008 Jan 4, 2010

    I'm so glad to be able to go to a restaurant now and be able to smell my delicious food rather than someone else's cigarette smoke. I'm sorry for the smokers that this will inconvenience, but, had restaurants done a better job of actually separating smokers and non-smokers, it may not have come to this. A booth in non-smoking which is situated directly beside a booth for smoking, separated only by a waist-high wall is not a good enough separation. Smokers will not have their health harmed by breathing clean air; the reverse isn't true. Everyone should be given the choice to smoke or not. I choose not to and I don't think that smokers should make the decision for me by making me inhale their smoke. Way to go, NC!!

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