A bill to ban smoking at workplaces, restaurants and other public spots across North Carolina is sparking a debate over health versus personal property rights. The measure calls for outlawing smoking in just about any building. Exceptions would include private homes, tobacco shops and factories, designated smoking rooms in hotels, and research
facilities that are experimenting with tobacco. The bill's sponsor, Representative Hugh Holliman of Davidson County, says it's meant to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke in restaurants and their workplaces. Unlike similar smoking bans proposed in the past, the state
Restaurant and Lodging Association supports this bill because it would put the same restrictions on all establishments and keep them competitive with each other. But opponents told a House committee today that a ban would infringe on the rights of small business owners and restaurateurs to do what they want with their own property. The committee is due to vote on the bill next week.