Failure Of Restaurant Smoking Ban Masks Other Victories

It was another painful defeat for anti-smoking forces in North Carolina when lawmakers shot down a proposed statewide smoking ban for hotels and restaurants. But that high-profile measure was only one failure in an otherwise successful year for groups trying to reduce smoking and secondhand smoke.

The Legislature this year passed laws to ban smoking inside adult care and nursing homes, and in all state government buildings. University of North Carolina leaders can now prohibit smoking in more campus buildings and 100-feet buffer zones around them. Public schools also were told to adopt stricter no-smoking policies that also apply to off-campus events.

Governor Mike Easley says lawmakers have moved faster against smoking than he would have thought possible in the nation's top tobacco-growing state. The Democrat -- who was raised on a tobacco
farm -- says it showed that the Legislature put public health ahead of the tobacco industry.