Local News

Durham City Council Wants to Ban Smoking in Restaurants

Posted February 21, 2007 8:53 p.m. EST

The Durham City Council next week will present lawmakers with a proposal to ban smoking in all restaurants in the Bull City.

The move comes after city leaders received dozens of complaints from residents.

"No one wants to walk out smelling like an ashtray and breathing in secondhand smoke, which we know how unhealthy it is," said Jayne Ardo, who favors smoke-free restaurants.

Currently, only state lawmakers regulate smoking bans in restaurants. The Legislature took that control away from local municipalities in 1993.

Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, said some legislators bowed to the power of big tobacco.

"People were simply saying, 'Well, it may not be healthy, but tobacco pays the bills,'" Luebke said. "But tobacco doesn't pay that many bills anymore. We're going to end up looking more like the 49 other states."

Opinions on the proposal are mixed.

Restaurant owner Gene Devine said he does not mind his restaurant being smoke-free but worries about its effect on business.

"If you're going to do it across the board -- fine. But how do you enforce it when someone says they're going somewhere else, because they're not enforcing it, and I lose business."

Others think nonsmoking sections are enough for restaurants and bars.

"It's a bar. You should be able to smoke at a bar," said Jeff Kessler, who opposes smoke-free restaurants. "If people don't like it, they should just stop crying about it."