State News

N.C. Senate clears smoking ban in restaurants, bars

Posted May 11, 2009
Updated May 12, 2009

— The state Senate on Monday gave final approval of a smoking ban in nearly all restaurants and bars.

Senate approves smoking ban in restaurants, bars State Senate approves smoking ban

The Senate voted 30-18 in favor of the measure that next returns to the state House, which passed a broader version last month and where bills that made similar attacks on secondhand smoking have died twice since 2005.

“We're preserving the rights of people who don't smoke. That is what we're doing. They have a right too,” said Sen. William Purcell, D-Anson, a supporter of the smoking ban.

The House version would ban smokers from places where children under age 18 visit or work. That would have allowed smoking in self-standing lounges but banned it from restaurants with bar sections.

The bill's primary sponsor said he believes House members will support some kind of smoking ban and expects it will probably be a negotiated compromise with the Senate.

"The thing we (House members) are most disappointed with is not protecting the workplace. But we have got a bill now that we can work with and move North Carolina forward," Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, a two-time lung cancer survivor and House majority leader.

Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, was among those members who voted against the ban. He said it violates a property owner's constitutional right.

"Our constitution guarantees the right of people to use their property in anyway (legally) they see fit," Hunt said.

Both chambers would have to vote again on a final version.

“I think if we make the bill any weaker than what we have in the Senate – we won't have much of a bill,” Purcell said.

If North Carolina's smoking ban is approved this year, the state would become the 35th – and perhaps one of the most unlikely – to join a national trend of segregating the one in five Americans who smoke.

For decades, the state's politicians protected both cigarette makers and the thousands of tobacco growers whose crop was worth $686 million to North Carolina farmers in 2008 – nearly half the value of the entire U.S. output and 80 percent more than the next largest producer.

But times are changing. A recent Elon University poll found about two-thirds of North Carolinians backed a ban on public smoking indoors, and eight in 10 said they consider secondhand smoke a threat to their health.

Purcell said second-hand smoke cost the state $269 million a year in health-related costs.

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  • jones27530 May 20, 2009

    Not to mention that everyone always cites how so many bars have had an increase in business in places where smoking is banned - but after a trusty Google search I found many more stories (from reputable news sources, not those with obvious leanings) about bars and clubs that took massive hits or were forced to close due to the bans.

    "reputable news source" HAHAHA. They don't exist.

    The city of El Paso enacted a similar ban in 2002. Restaurants, bars, and clubs reported an INCREASE in revenue. I prefer actual statistics over your National Enquirer article every time.

    If people didn't visit places where they don't wash their hands after using the restroom and don't exterminate for flies and roaches we wouln't need the Dept. of Health.

    If you don't like eating fly and roach droppings, don't go there.

  • jones27530 May 20, 2009

    "If non-smokers would use common sense and not visit establishments where smoking is allowed, there wouldn't be a problem."

    If people didn't visit places where they don't wash their hands after using the restroom and don't exterminate for flies and roaches we wouln't need the Dept. of Health.

    If you don't like eating fly and roach droppings, don't go there.

  • jones27530 May 20, 2009

    We have a non-smoking pub here in town. At first I just laughed because I KNEW they would be outta business within the year. "Who goes to a bar to drink and doesn't smoke?" I thought.

    Business is booming and they've leased an adjoining space to double their size.

  • braddyg May 13, 2009

    "My personal straw poll reflects this... :-) ...as I'd finally go to bars if they stopped allowing a Class A carcinogen in their air."

    And I would stop going to bars if they did, so that's a 1-1 wash. :)

    Not to mention that everyone always cites how so many bars have had an increase in business in places where smoking is banned - but after a trusty Google search I found many more stories (from reputable news sources, not those with obvious leanings) about bars and clubs that took massive hits or were forced to close due to the bans.

  • braddyg May 13, 2009

    hereandnow, there are plenty of places that you can get alcohol that don't allow smoking, so I still don't see the difference. If smoking is so harmful, it should be made illegal across the board. Making laws full of holes that cater to certain interest groups don't do a thing to benefit public safety, they only make the lawmakers' pockets fatter. They know that by going after a minority segment of the population, they're making constituents happy - and maybe the ignorant masses won't notice how they're raping and pillaging the freedoms (and wallets) of the people in this state.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 13, 2009

    braddyg, it would be the same as Cigar shops only if bars were not allowed to serve alcohol - they don't make their living off of cancer sticks. And there are plenty of stats that show restaurant & bar business goes UP when the poison is banned. My personal straw poll reflects this... :-) ...as I'd finally go to bars if they stopped allowing a Class A carcinogen in their air.

  • braddyg May 13, 2009

    "The House has a few good exemptions in my opinion: Cigar Bars, Tobacco Shops & actors smoking on movie sets in particular. I don't think a law should run someone out of business or deter movie biz in our state."

    Really? And you don't think the smoking ban will run any other establishments out of business? I'm confused as to why you think it's "okay" to allow smoking in the places you've mentioned but not any others. Walking into a cigar bar, you know people will be smoking cigars, so I bet you don't go...right? Then why the h*ll do you go to bars where smoking is allowed? It's no different.

  • beachbum306 May 13, 2009

    Have any of you gone and read the bills passed by the Senate and House? I have read them over and over and cannot come to the conclusion that the House Bill is broader as WRAL suggests. In fact, I come to the opposite conclusion. The Senate Bill is broader. The House bill has all sorts of exemptions and caveats built into it. And, for the life of me, I can't find anything in either Bill that references protecting children from second hand smoke as has been suggested being in the House Bill.
    From what I understand by reading the bills, both bills would outlaw smoking in bars and nightclubs. Only private clubs that are run by membership or are tax exempt/non profit will be exempted. This would include country clubs, fraternal orgs, etc. but NOT lounges or nightclubs. The House has a few good exemptions in my opinion: Cigar Bars, Tobacco Shops & actors smoking on movie sets in particular. I don't think a law should run someone out of business or deter movie biz in our state.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 13, 2009

    beachbum306 said, "By their behavior, even most smokers show that they don't like second hand smoke."

    Exactly. I like asking smokers why they roll the window down on their car or hold the cigarette out the window when no one else is in the car. In fact, I wonder why they don't just put a bubble over their head and then one puff would give them their fix for 10 minutes.

  • oldfirehorse May 12, 2009

    The net result of this will be a whole lot of folks mashing out their cigarette on the meal plate, since ashtrays would now be illegal.

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