NC House Smoking Bill passes committee

Updates on the smoking bills I mentioned last week….

Bill Would Extinguish Indoor Smoking Statewide :: WRAL.com

Dismissing North Carolina’s heritage as a tobacco state, a House committee on Tuesday passed a far-reaching indoor smoking ban.

The Judiciary Committee passed the ban by a 9-4 vote. The measure would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces in North Carolina, including bars and restaurants. The rules also would apply to private clubs, except those with nonprofit or tax-exempt status.

The measure would be complaint-driven — local health departments would act on complaints from the public — and violators would first receive warnings.

“This was a significant and important event to advance the public’s health in North Carolina,” said Dr. Leah Devlin, director of the state Division of Public Health.

But critics of the legislation, House Bill 259, pointed out that it faces an uphill battle on the House and Senate floors.

“What they really want is a complete prohibition of indoor smoking in North Carolina,” said state Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake. “We all know smoking is nasty and dangerous. The question is whether, in a free society, you let people do some things that are nasty and dangerous.”

Some opponents said passing the bill could set the stage for similar bans inside personal vehicles and homes.

You want to smoke and you own the building. Is it really that bad for the public?” asked state Rep. Ronnie Sutton, D-Robeson.

Yes Paul and Ronnie, not only did you construct a straw man, you blew smoke on it, gave it lung cancer, tortured it with cigarette butts and finally set it on fire. Sheesh, what asses.


From Laura Leslie, WUNC (our local NPR affiliate) reporter who maintains a reporter’s blog at WUNC

Under the current version of the bill, which isn’t available on the web just yet, only NON-profit clubs could allow smoking – like the Elks Lodge, for example.

So for the standard nightclub or bar, smoking would be banned.

Hope it helps – and thanks very much for reading!!

So, that’s a lot of progress on the house bill, making it very close to the senate bill.

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  1. I think the ass here is the person who makes personal attacks without addressing the arguments put forth by the targeted individuals. While I must concede that Mr. Sutton’s comment does not seem to make that much sense as it is presented here, Mr. Stam’s remark focuses the debate where it belongs, and cannot be fairly called a straw man. The debate here is NOT whether or not the public health would be improved the smoking ban (I think most people would agree that it would), but whether or not the government has the responsibility and authority to take such an action. The NC smoking ban is not a health issue, it is a property rights issue, and should be treated accordingly.

  2. I should have said “would be improved by the smoking ban”. This next tidbit is wholly irrelevant, but for the record, I am a non-smoker.

  3. Just because you own a piece of property does not give you the authority to behave in a manner that causes public risk and harm. I am not allowed to burn cars, or manufacture drugs (legal or illegal) just because I own my house. Let’s face it, bars and restuarants are public places and are treated as such regardless of who owns them. You have a universal right to walk around naked in your living room, try arguing that you’re the owner of a restaurant and you will walk around naked as you please. I’m sure you can get a licence for that, but the restrictions are different.

    The reason it is a strawman argument is that it takes what’s a perfectly reasonable proposition that smoking in public spaces is a public health issue and an occupational health and exposure issue, and conflates it into banning smoking in the “privacy of your own home”. If that is not a strawman, I don’t know what is. I have not heard anyone (in a serious public/private capacity) advocate for a total ban on all smoking. But people have a right to be smoke free in public places. I speak as someone who has many friends who smoke, and one who will light one up occasionally too. It is a public health hazard, and an all too wel documented one.

    There’s no defending smoking from any standpoint other than “we’ve been doing it for years, it’s pleasurable and addictive, and it has become an(ever less so) important part of our culture and our economy”.

    The “property rights” argument can be used to defend just about anything from racism, to discrimination, to religious freedom (note that I mix good and bad things in here, it is a universal defense!)

  4. You are absolutely right that “property rights” can be used to defend just about anything. And it should. Just because my right to walk around naked in my privately-owned business has been illegitimately abrogated by the government does not mean that my right to decide whether or not smoking should be allowed in my facility should be trampled upon as well. Furthermore, I should have the right to be racist, discriminatory, and intolerant in general, on my own business property if I so choose. (I say “should” because although I believe I do have that right, I recognize that the federal government claims otherwise.) The fiscal consequences of this sort of behavior, however, would be disasterous for most business owners. People in general need to stop relying on the government to legislate away their dislikes, and instead exercise their own right to not spend their capital in business establishments that have standards short of their own.

  5. What’s the best way to get support for this bill? Website to gather supporter signatures? Email everyone in the house and senate? It would be a nice change to go into a sports bar to watch a game and not have someones “nasty and dangerous” habit killing me at the same time.

  6. Laurie:

    Well, I am not sure what the best way would be. The occupational health exposure angle is the most compelling because the people who work at bars/restaurants are the only ones forced to inhabit that environment. The exposure-effect relationship for second hand smoke is well enough accepted that any kind of lawsuit brought up by a significant number of workers in the restaurant/bar service industry would knock smoking right out of these places.

    In the absence of this angle, targeting the specific legislators holding up the measure would be the most helpful. It would be good to find out the real reason for their actions (real, not catchall rationales like property rights). They can then be worked on.

    Laura Leslie mentioned that “conservative Dems and a substantial portion of the Black Caucus. The vast majority of House Republicans are also opposed”. The conservatives, I can understand, the Black Caucus, I don’t know, many are from rural farming communities, so that might br a factor.

    I think it’s only a matter of time before this bill is passed, this state’s been trying for a eyar or two now, let’s see.

  7. Of course property rights protect your right to pollute, provided that your pollution does not directy impact the health of others who are enjoying their own property rights. I can let my car idle in my driveway while it warms up in the dead of winter if I so choose. Am I slowly killing my neighbors or passers-by by doing so? Maybe, but either we don’t have enough evidence yet to prove that theory, or the damage done to my neighbors is so negligible as to be a non-issue. If the preponderance of scientific evidence shows that people who live or work in non-smoking facilities next door to those establishments that permit smoking suffer greater health problems than than the population at large as a direct result, then you have a real basis for a smoking ban.

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