North Carolina Senate Health Committee votes for stricter smoking ban..

April 30, 2009 - The committee voted Wednesday, 4/29 eliminating plans to exempt bars and nightclubs from the smoking ban restrictions. State Sen. Bill Purcell of Scotland County, a physician and leading advocate of the ban, hopes to bring the bill for a floor vote in the Senate as soon as today, 4/30.

Much of the rhetoric during the debate on the legislation echoed previous arguments. Proponents said a broad ban on smoking is necessary to protect the health of workers and the public. Opponents said individual business owners should decide whether to have smoking on their premises.

Tobacco manufacturing is a $23.9 billion industry in the state.

The revised bill addresses what restaurant owners describe as an inequity with a House version of the ban. That version would let smokers light up in businesses that exclude anyone under age 18. In practice, this would permit smoking in many bars but ban it in restaurants that operate bars. Restaurant owners argued that this would put them at a competitive disadvantage against bars and nightclubs.

If the proposed ban becomes law, smoking would become illegal in most places open to the public, plus most workplaces. It would have exemptions for cigar bars and tobacco shops. Also exempt: Actors portraying smokers on the set of a movie, television show or live stage show.

If the Senate approves the ban, the bill would return to the House for a concurrence vote. It’s not clear whether the House will concur, as the ban cleared the House only after the exemption for bars was added.

Related news briefs: North Carolina House poised to pass smoking ban..; North Carolina - ban on smoking in public places passes 1st test...

Reference: Senate committee approves stricter smoking ban by Paul Woolverton,, 4/30/2009.