The North Carolina House Health Committee has approved a bill that would ban smoking in most public places — a significant step in the home state of Tobacco Road.
The Associated Press reported March 3 that the health committee approved the measure on a voice vote and sent it to a legal committee for consideration. Rep. Wil Neumann, a committee member, said that state residents and researchers believe that secondhand smoke is hazardous and that lawmakers are thus compelled to act on an indoor-smoking ban.
The bill would ban smoking in all workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants, and bars. Rep. Cary Allred, who opposed the measure, said a ban would represent unwarranted government intrusion and that restaurant and bar workers “don't have to work there if they don't like the smoke.”
“I think this bill goes entirely too far,” he said. “There's too much intrusion. There's too much Gestapo atmosphere.”
Less-ambitious legislation was defeated in the North Carolina House in 2005 and 2007, and the Senate has not acted on a companion bill currently in committee.