An attempt to ban smoking in many public
areas across North Carolina narrowly failed in the House Wednesday.
Opponents included tobacco territory Democrats and Republicans
who called the measure an infringement on the rights of business
House members voted 61-to-55 against the measure, which was
sponsored by Representative Hugh Holliman of Davidson County. He
had pulled the measure from the floor calendar several times and
taken the bill through committee twice in a futile effort to win
Holliman urged lawmakers to view the bill as an effort to
protect nonsmoking citizens from unwanted exposure to smoke in
restaurants, offices and other businesses. He compared it laws and
regulations that try to protect workers from on-the-job hazards.
But opponents insisted the measure would criminalize a legal
activity and unfairly punish business owners, who could have been
fined if someone smoked in their establishment. The proposed law
didn't include any punishment for smokers themselves.