North Carolina - ban on smoking in public places passes 1st test...

March 4, 2009 - A proposed North Carolina state ban on smoking in public places passed its first test Tuesday, March 3, 2009 in a legislative committee. The North Carolina House Health Committee approved the measure on a voice vote with support from Rep. Bruce Goforth. Goforth switched his vote from 2007 when he was one of a minority of Democrats whose opposition kept a ban from passage on the House floor. (Statewide Smoking Ban Fails to Clear North Carolina..)

The bill would forbid smoking in restaurants, bars and most other indoor public places and workplaces with the goal of protecting workers and customers from secondhand smoke. Hotels would have to designate at least 80 percent of their rooms as nonsmoking.

Legislators of both parties spoke in favor of a ban before the health panel moved it on to its next stop, a House judiciary committee. Opponent, Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, called it a “Draconian” measure. “I'm not saying that smoking is not a hazard. I agree,” Avila said. But the ban is “a hazard to people's freedom of choice and personal property rights,” she said. The N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association will not oppose -- and could actively support -- a ban on smoking in restaurants and workplaces, The News & Observer, 2/16/2009.

Reference: Smoking ban clears first hurdle House committee supports measure by Jordan Schrader (, Asheville Citizen-Times, 3/4/2009.