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.