Local News

Group of Wake County Health Leaders Support Smoking Ban

Posted March 21, 2007 4:25 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2007 9:08 p.m. EDT

— A bill to prohibit smoking in most public workplaces in North Carolina, including restaurants, has the backing of a group of Wake County businesses, but opponents say it infringes on personal rights.

A group called Smoke-Free Wake is made up of about 100 Wake County business and health-care professionals. In an announcement Wednesday, the organization said it supports House Bill 259, saying it would give businesses that decided to go smoke-free on their own a level playing field.

In its announcement, the group emphasized the dangers of second-hand smoke, particularly inside of bars and restaurants. Smoke-Free Wake leaders cited a 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's report that says people who inhale the smoke are 30 percent more likely to get lung cancer.

The Judiciary Committee passed the ban Tuesday by a 9-4 vote. The measure would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces in North Carolina, including bars and restaurants. The rules also would apply to private clubs, except those with nonprofit or tax-exempt status.

The measure would be complaint-driven, with local health departments acting on complaints from the public. Violators would first receive warnings.

Despite opposition to previous anti-smoking legislation, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association doesn't plan to fight the smoking ban.

If the bill makes it through the General Assembly, North Carolina would join 22 other states and Washington, D.C., in banning indoor smoking.