Tobacco's Time May Be Passing In N.C.

Decreased domestic demand, fewer farmers, an influx of newcomers and continuing alarms over the dangers of smoking have even opened the door for state lawmakers to consider what once seemed unthinkable here -- a broad ban on indoor smoking across North Carolina.

North Carolina is the nation's top tobacco state, producing 43 percent of the domestic crop in 2005. That was the first year without the price-stabilizing quota system created by the federal government in the 1930s.

Two of the three largest U-S cigarette makers are still based in the state. Still, the same argument against banning public smoking heard
around the country is being used here.

Opponents don't talk about tobacco's legacy or the money and jobs it brings to the state. Instead, they cite their belief that business owners should be able to control the activity allowed on their property.

Data compiled by Duke University shows that nearly 18-hundred people still worked in tobacco farming and more than 11-thousand-500 had tobacco manufacturing jobs in 2005.