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@NCCapitol

Smoking ban rollback wins first vote

Posted May 14, 2013

— A key Senate committee voted Tuesday to overturn outdoor smoking bans in cities, on beaches and on community college campuses.

Under Senate Bill 703, no local ordinance on outdoor smoking could be more restrictive than state law. State law places no restrictions on smoking outdoors.  

Sponsor Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, said blanket bans on smoking in public places around the state are making it "impossible" for adults to consume "a legal product."

He said the issue came to his attention recently when Wrightsville Beach enacted a beach smoking ban.

"If you’re on a windy beach in North Carolina, you ought to be able to consume a tobacco product," Newton said. "I find it ridiculous that we can’t be outdoors and have somewhere for people who choose to smoke to smoke." 

The legislation would not even allow for the designation of smoking or non-smoking areas in public places, a fact that concerned several members of the Senate Agriculture Committee at Tuesday's meeting. 

Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, said allowing smoking at public events, such as outdoor concerts, could discourage families from attending and even endanger children and people with asthma.

"We have to smell diesel exhaust, and people can move their children to another place if there’s a problem," Newton responded. "If you’re at a free public event where you’re free to move around, I just think you ought to be able to consume the tobacco product."

Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, asked for any scientific evidence showing that secondhand smoke outdoors is dangerous. Committee staff said they didn't know of any such study.

RDU Smoking Limits Ignote Some Opposition Measure would prevent outdoor smoking bans

Other Republicans were skeptical of the proposal, especially the section that would overturn "smoke-free campus" rules at community colleges. Thirty-three of the state's 58 community colleges have instituted campus-wide bans.

Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, said his local community college wants to keep its smoking ban.

"Who’s complaining about the current law?" Allran asked Newton. "You’re taking away rights from the local schools and the local areas to determine their own policies."

"The smokers are unhappy about it," Newton replied.  

Newton offered to work on a compromise amendment that would allow community colleges to designate an area to keep smokers away from buildings, but he said he would not consider taking them out of the bill entirely. 

"What I’m really trying to address is the blanket ban," he said. "I think there ought to be a smoking area available to students. I don’t think they should have to get in their car and go for a ride between classes." 

Pam Seamans with the North Carolina Alliance for Health said the bill would "move North Carolina backward in efforts to protect public health," and could also affect some hospitals' outdoor smoking bans.

Seamans said lawmakers should leave local ordinances alone.  

"The current system is working well," she said. "[Lawmakers] are creating a problem where there is none."

The measure goes next to the Senate State and Local Government Committee. It could be on the Senate floor Wednesday.

299 Comments

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  • Crumps Br0ther May 15, 2013

    cant even make this up. Poor America
    Minarchist

    Yep poor America for re-electing this worthless liar! Barrys opposition has been validated this week as all these scandals come to life and you wont even acknowledge it, but ifit was Bush, you would all be unhinged!Poor America indeed when you uninformed can be bought with freebies as you give up your freedoms. How does one such as yourself become so worthless that you need govt in every aspect of your life to function? Youre already dead.

  • WRAL_USER May 15, 2013

    If people can soak in hideous perfume/cologne (or other disgusting, wafting stuff) legally indoors, smoking outdoors should be legal.

    disclaimer : I was once upon a time a smoker, but no more...

    So far, this is the only thing the legislature has done that makes any sense during the current crop's tenure. There should be freedom to engage in legal activities in public...

  • Brian Jenkins May 15, 2013

    You or no one is going to take anything from me anyway. But if you really did some research on Barry you would see that he has been on boards and given a lot of money to gun grabber causes. But for some reason you soft headed supporters of his always find a way to ignore his past and his own words. Its like he never existed for you until 2008.
    Crumps Br0ther
    May 15, 2013 2:05 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Poor CRUMP. Still crying about losing guns while voting for an actual gun banner last November. LOL cant even make this up. Poor America

  • Crumps Br0ther May 15, 2013

    how about if you want to go to the beach and smoke go somewhere else other than Writesville beach.
    raleighindependent

    I'll go. Im not so concerned with allowing someone else to ruin my good time. Im the only person that can allow that to happen and I choose not to.

  • Crumps Br0ther May 15, 2013

    So you have done a complete 180 and realized you are not the center of the universe, that the falling sky isn't aimed for your head, and no one is trying to ‘take away’ (insert random word or phrase) from you personally?
    Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance

    You or no one is going to take anything from me anyway. But if you really did some research on Barry you would see that he has been on boards and given a lot of money to gun grabber causes. But for some reason you soft headed supporters of his always find a way to ignore his past and his own words. Its like he never existed for you until 2008.

  • Bogie May 15, 2013

    What the [ ], vote for Buck!

  • Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance May 15, 2013

    pretty narcissitic to think someone is out to get you.- Crumps Br0ther

    So you have done a complete 180 and realized you are not the center of the universe, that the falling sky isn't aimed for your head, and no one is trying to ‘take away’ (insert random word or phrase) from you personally?

  • imharri22 May 15, 2013

    the Ban is about LITTER not about Smoking. While I do not like smoking on the beach I do not think its unreasonable for a smoker to go to the parking lot and have their smoke.

    I live on the beach and after a normal weekend I can pickup 100s if not 1000s of b@tts littered across the beach. Smokers seem to think its their right not only to smoke but also use the beach as their ashtray. This is the reason for the ban and the state should recognize the fact that litter is the issue and BAN smoking on all beaches in NC

  • raleighindependent May 15, 2013

    All of you who are saying if we dont like it dont go to a place that allows smoking, how about if you want to go to the beach and smoke go somewhere else other than Writesville beach.

  • Crumps Br0ther May 15, 2013

    I won't be attending any place that allows smoking back in their doors.
    OGE

    And that is your CHOICE. As it is for the owner to CHOOSE to allow smoking in their establishment. Everyone is allowed to make their own choices no matter how much you would like to put your choice on them

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