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Perdue signs N.C. smoking ban

Beginning in January, smoking in restaurants and most bars in North Carolina will be illegal.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Beverly Perdue on Tuesday signed an indoor smoking ban into law.

Bill sponsors Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson and Sen. William Purcell, D-Scotland and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler joined Perdue in a signing ceremony at the State Capitol.

"It's a huge marker in our state that we're serious about having a healthy North Carolina, and that we'll go to (all means) to make that happen," Perdue said. "My hat's off to the General Assembly. I have never been as proud of a body in my entire life."

The new law bans smoking in nearly all restaurants and bars. Private clubs and cigar bars are exempted from the no-smoking restrictions.

Proponents say the law will protect people from the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke, while critics say the ban infringes on smokers' rights and the rights of business owners to control what activities go on inside their establishments.

The law takes effect next January and allows fines of up to $50 for smokers who keep puffing after being asked by an establishment's managers to stop.

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