Local News

Restaurants, bars mostly complying with smoking ban

Posted January 8, 2010 3:44 p.m. EST
Updated April 1, 2010 11:06 p.m. EDT

— Local health departments in central North Carolina say they have received few complaints about violations of a smoking ban for restaurants, bars and other workplaces that took effect last Saturday.

Cumberland County received 12 complaints, Durham County had one complaint, and Orange and Johnston counties had none. Wake County hasn't received many complaints, health department spokesman Will Glenn said.

"The small number of complaints in the first report confirms our predictions that Cumberland County businesses are, for the most part, fully complying with the law," Cumberland County Health Director Buck Wilson said in a statement.

He said that three complaints involved a lack of no-smoking signs, and nine involved businesses allowing smoking to continue.

The ban relies on the public to report violations to their local health department, online at SmokeFree.NC.gov Web site or by calling the N.C. CARE-LINE toll-free at 800-662-7030.

The law gives exemptions to nonprofit private clubs that serve food or drink such as country clubs and those run by fraternal organizations, such as Kiwanis and the Elks. Hotels and inns can set aside 20 percent of their rooms for smokers.

Cumberland and Durham issued warning letters to businesses that received complaints, as well as informational material about the law.

"Some establishments are confused about the definition of a private club. They don't realize the new law applies to them," Wilson said. "We have education materials to share and even no-smoking signs and coasters."

The law stipulates that after receiving two warning letters, businesses violating the no-smoking law can be fined up to $200 per day. Individuals can be fined $50 per violation.