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Cancer survivor seeks more smoking restrictions

Posted January 29, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Sponsors talked about their reasons for pushing a bill that would ban smoking in restaurants, public places and indoor work sites in North Carolina.

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman filed H.B. 2: Prohibit Smoking in Public & Work Places Act on the General Assembly's opening day Wednesday.

The bill would also allow localities to create stricter rules. Individuals violating it would be fined $50, and business $200, after two written warnings.

Bill would ban smoking in public spaces in N.C. Bill would ban smoking in public spaces in N.C.

Opponents and supporters of a smoking ban both say this issue is about rights – the right to public health or the right to run lives and businesses without government interference.

"I have the right to choose where I go. What I don't want to do is tell the person who has invested $1 million in his restaurant how he has to run the restaurant, what his rules have to be, what he has to allow and what he can allow," said Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Mecklenburg.

"I said it before, and I'll say it a million times: Somebody else's rights end when they enter my lungs," bill sponsor, Rep. Jeff Barnhart, R-Cabarrus, said.

"It is my job to improve the lives of the people of this state, and one clear way to do that is to eliminate smoking in the workplaces and public places of North Carolina," Holliman, D-Davidson, said. "This is clearly nothing short of a threat to public health."

The state spends billions each year on smoking-related health problems, said another bill sponsor, Rep. Rich Glazier, D-Cumberland County.

"It is increasing exponentially ever year, and the state simply can not economically afford to sustain that burden," Glazier said.

Holliman said he has experienced the danger of secondhand smoke firsthand – he believes it caused his two bouts with lung cancer and the death of his sister from the disease. Barnhart said his motivation is also personal.

"My father-in-law died of lung cancer," Barnhart said. "He was not a smoker. When the removed his lung, they asked him how many packs he smoked a day, it was so bad."

Opponents of a smoking ban also point to tobacco manufacturing's vital role in North Carolina's history and economy. And in other states, many restaurant and bar owners opposed smoking bans, saying they would snuff out business.

North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging officials said they would meet Tuesday before commenting on the issue publicly.

Supporters of the ban, though, say they are convinced that the state's economy can adjust.

"You know, if they can ban smoking in the pubs of Scotland and Ireland, then I don't believe we'll have a problem with that," Holliman said.

"It's long overdue. The airlines figured this out a long, long time ago, and people haven't stopped flying because of it," Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, said.

The bill would permit smoking in private residences – except those used for commercial child or adult care – and existing tobacco shops, manufacturing and processing facilities. Hotels and motels could allow smoking in up to 20 percent of their rooms.

The ban would not affect outdoor public places, but the bill would give localities the authority to enact such prohibition. Raleigh has sought permission from the General Assembly to ban smoking in city parks.

The bill would become effective immediately after getting the governor's signature if it passes.

The House narrowly defeated a similar measure that Holliman proposed four years ago. It would have required restaurants to set aside most of their dining space for nonsmokers. A broader ban passed a committee in 2007, then stopped. Lawmakers have banned smoking in prisons and state-government buildings and vehicles.


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  • raleighpackfan11 Mar 17, 2009

    Don't like my secondhand smoke? Don't stand next to me pretending you own my air.

  • futbalfantic Jan 30, 2009

    I posted this question before, but can someone please tell me the reasoning behind banning of somkeless tobacco?

  • OSX Jan 30, 2009

    How about we just ban everything. No alcohol, no tobacco, no fatting foods, no gasoline, and we sit around all day and eat grass because we have no jobs. We then would be truly ONE with the world. Until something bad happens to interrupt the ONEness with the world.

  • dvdmxwll Jan 30, 2009

    How many people out of work now?? Something like 8% and rising. What is the state budget shortfall???? About 2 billion?
    Isn't North Carolina the state with something like 875,000 illegals residing in it and social services for these people is about 1 Billion dollars a year.
    Then there is this elected representative that has nothing better to do with his time than push through anti-smoking legislation. Hey fella, this state has a lot more problems that are in need of immediate attention other than your "feel good about yourself" legislation.

  • mwilliams2 Jan 30, 2009

    1carpe, by your logic, it should be ok for corporations to dump toxic waste wherever they please. It might cause cancer in you and me, but hey, let's not infringe on their right to pollute.

    The bottom line is that no one should have the right to kill anyone else - not with a gun, not with a knife, not by injecting the HIV virus into someone, not by intentionally spreading asbestos into the air, and not by second hand smoke.

    This is not about infringing on the rights of the smoker, this is about protecting the rights of the non-smoker.

  • Bijoux Jan 29, 2009

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Jan 29, 2009

    The smoking ban is not about protecting us from ourselves. The government is not banning anything to keep you from giving yourself cancer. (If they did that, then we might also be afraid that they might try to ban fast food, alcohol, etc.)

    This is about protecting ME from YOUR smoke. You see, I don't want your harmful carcinogens in my body against my will. If I choose to smoke, that's different. If I choose to eat fast food or drink alcohol, that's different. When we share public air, and you're filling it with YOUR smoke, you infringe on my right to breath air that does not contain YOUR drug of choice.

    Do what you want at home and in your car. Keep it out of the public air.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Jan 29, 2009

    "Just like smoking cigarettes ALONE do not cause cancer, neither does fast food ALONE cause obesity."

    Um, yes, cigarettes don't need any help from anything else to cause cancer. But thanks for playing.

  • dukeman64 Jan 29, 2009

    Those who are defending smoking in public places, give me one good reason. My main reason against smoking in public places is because secondhand smoke is deadly. What's your defense?

  • 1carpe Jan 29, 2009

    t_hendricks you are letting your liberal mind show. My entire message is one of infringement on all rights and how it starts. The ban on smoking in this particular case is the vehicle for the message. Get your "feelings" out of the issue and engage your brain. And you know something I have yet to see a smoker walk up to somebody eating at a resturant and blow smoke in their face. Bad example son, most likely a good point until you let your feelings get in the way of the example. But gosh, you know what? Some purfume used in excess makes me break out with hives...let's ban it from public places. I cannot tolerate the smell of diesel fuel exaust...let's ban it. Loud music ruins hearing...let's ban it. Yes, smoking is bad for you. Yes it is bad second hand in enclosed places. But when and where will it stop. I submit the smoking issue is only a starting place.