The bill approved Wednesday falls short of how it began: a total and sweeping ban on smoking in all public places. But the House's original bill left a wide loophole for bars, an exemption that worried restaurant owners who feared bars would steal late-night customers.
via House approves smoking ban for N.C. – Politics – News & Observer.
The bill (soon to become law) still contains the giant “private club” loophole I had mentioned earlier, so, 1.5 cheers. And strange exemption for cigar bars (where smoke is emitted), but not for hookah bars (where water filters quite a bit of the smoke).
Critically, as Laura Leslie pointed out, the law will allow local health officials to go above and beyond state law. So, a floor was established, not a ceiling, which is good. They were previously forbidden to enact any smoking bans. Now Chapel Hill/Carrboro can do what it has been wanting to do for years and finally kill smoking in all public places.
Well, it has taken less than a decade (I am a pessimist), but looks like smoking in bars and restaurants may finally be over and done with in my old home state of NC.
Note that there is currently a HUGE loophole in the senate version of the bill, it permits smoking in “private clubs”. Many bars in NC designate themselves as “private clubs” to circumvent prohibition era (or thereabouts) laws that mandate liquor serving establishments to get a certain percentage of their revenue from food. So, my favourite Chapel Hill drinking establishment, The Dead Mule (no website, sorry!) is supposedly a “private club” – You supposedly pay a one time membership fee (usually less than 5 bucks), and are supposed to “sign in” any members and guests. This was all a farce anyway, and the Mule got extremely smoky, it was quite disgusting after a while.
One hopes that the final bill will make the ban universal. Bans like this work best when they don’t favour one group of establishments over the other for no real reason. The people who work at the Dead Mule are equally entitled to clean air.
1.5 cautious cheers, let’s see what happens in the end…
The state Senate voted Thursday to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in North Carolina. It set the stage for what would be a historic prohibition of a product that created thousands of jobs, built Duke and Wake Forest universities and has long been an integral part of the culture in the nation's top tobacco-producing state.
House members passed a tougher version last month, meaning that lawmakers will still have to work out a compromise, assuming the Senate passes the measure in a second vote on Monday. The bill passed Thursday by an eight-vote margin, 26-18, so that seems likely.
via State Senate OKs smoking ban – Politics – News & Observer.