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North Carolina Bans Smoking in Restaurants, Bars

We’re in Asheville, North Carolina for a couple of days, the first stop on a road trip to see friends and family. I awoke to find a copy of the Asheville Citizen-Times at the door with a headline I thought I’d never see: “NC approves ban on smoking.”

North Carolina, a state built on tobacco, will outlaw smoking in restaurants and bars starting next year. Citing the dangers of second-hand smoke, legislators gave their final stamp of approval to a smoking ban Tuesday with a tight vote in the House, 62-56.

Gov. Bev Perdue said she would sign the legislation, hailing “an important and historic day for North Carolina.”

The ban reflects the dwindling influence of tobacco companies in setting the state’s agenda. It presents a hassle to the owners of some diners and nightspots, and an affront to those who see it as an invasion of property rights.

But Lee Storrow, a 19-year-old UNC Chapel Hill student from Asheville, said most people his age will just be glad not to come home smelling like smoke. “They can choose to go out with friends and not have to choose between their health and having a good time on a Friday or Saturday night,” said Storrow, who pushed for the ban as a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

I’m with Storrow in preferring not to have to wade through a sea of cigarette smoke in order to dine out or grab a beer at the bar.  Still, I continue to believe that the proprietor of the establishment should have the right to decide what best serves his customers.  Tobacco is a legal product, after all.

I’m astounded, though, that North Carolina, a state so associated with tobacco that many brands of cigarettes are named after its cities, is taking this step.  I live in Virginia, the other major tobacco state, which passed a similar ban in March, effective 1 January 2010.

The original version of the post had Virginia still “contemplating” the ban but commenter Boyd noted that it had already passed.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I think it mostly demonstrates that the yankification of North Carolina is well underway, mostly in the Raleigh-Durham aree although I’m sure Asheville has its own immigrant population.

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  2. Boyd says:

    You gotta start paying closer attention, James. Virginia’s smoking ban in restaurants takes effect Dec 1, 2009.

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  3. Pete Burgess says:

    Drip, drip, drip; the PC police, big brother and all the other “know it alls,” chip away at our individual freedoms. Just like the frog in the water brought slowly to a boil. The hubris exhibited by all these people who think they know better how we should live our lives, is breathtaking (No pun intended).

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  4. Triumph says:

    Still, I continue to believe that the proprietor of the establishment should have the right to decide what best serves his customers. Tobacco is a legal product, after all.

    I concur. I have a beef with restriction on oxycontin–also a legal product. It would be awesome if there were no restrictions on its sale. It is a real pain to have to run to the drug store to get it when I should be able to get it at my local tavern.

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  5. Herb says:

    Of all possible reasons to ban smoking, the one I’m sick of hearing is “I don’t want to come home smelling like smoke.” So????

    I guess, it’s alright, though. We’ll stand on the streets, make lots of noise, and litter the sidewalks with our butts. I mean, the important thing is that no one smells like smoke.

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  6. Ugh says:

    Cigarette smoke is the residue of your pleasure. It fouls the air, my clothes, hair and lungs. I too have pleasures. One of which is beer. The residue of beer is urine. Would you be annoyed if I stood on a chair and pissed on your head and clothes?

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  7. Triumph says:

    Would you be annoyed if I stood on a chair and pissed on your head and clothes?

    Dude, that’s a sure-fire way to attract Larry Craig

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  8. capital L says:

    “Cigarette smoke is the residue of your pleasure. It fouls the air, my clothes, hair and lungs. I too have pleasures. One of which is beer. The residue of beer is urine. Would you be annoyed if I stood on a chair and pissed on your head and clothes?”

    I too have pleasures. One of which is walking and driving safely at night. The residue of beer-drinkers is drunk driving. Would you be annoyed if I drove my car into the bar and t-boned your bar stool? The only obvious solution is to ban all bars in North Carolina.

    Reductions to the absurd aside, the weirdest thing about this bill is the exceptions secured. For example, I read in the Durham paper yesterday that in some manner the film-making industry had secured an exemption.

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