Local News

State Could See Smoking Ban in Public Places

Posted February 20, 2007 11:29 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2007 7:56 a.m. EST

— A smoking ban in tobacco country?

A bill filed in the state Legislature on Tuesday would ban smoking in public places such as bars, restaurants and workplaces across North Carolina. Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson County, House majority leader, is sponsoring the bill.

Holliman says it's no secret that second-hand smoke causes cancer and that the legislation's goal is to protect the citizens of North Carolina.

"I think it's a very good thing because a lot of people don't like to smell smoke," says Fred Breidt, who said he supports the bill. He was just one of dozens of customers enjoying a drink at the East Village Grill in Raleigh Tuesday night. The manager says about 75 percent of the customers are smokers.

Kurt Davenport has been smoking for the past 38 years. He says the government should leave smokers alone.

"It's my right to smoke wherever and whenever I care to," Davenport said, as he lit up a cigarette. The bill would prohibit smoking indoors with very few exceptions, for example bars that sell mostly alcohol and very little food.

"Why should we be subjected to the recycled filth of someone else's self-inflicted bad habit?" asked Roger Thompson, a supporter of the bill.

Bartender Joe Kirchgassner said he would be surprised if the law passes, but he doesn't think business will be hurt if it does.

"I think the people who smoke in here are going to come in and drink anyway. They are not going to not come in because they can't smoke. They can go out on the deck and smoke," Kirchgassner said.

Several states have already adopted similar smoke-free legislation, including Florida, Colorado and New York. New York State experienced a 12 percent drop in smoking rates the year the bill was passed.

Holliman said his bill will head to committee in the next two weeks and then go to the full House for a vote.