Apr 9, 2009
Tobacco-rich North Carolina approves workplace smoking ban
.The news in Michigan is that the much sought after and popular workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, is stalled in the Michigan Legislature, but the news in tobacco-rich North Carolina is that the state House just approved a ban last week on smoking in work places and restaurants.
North Carolina is home of the J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the second-largest tobacco company in the United States, and maker of such well-known cigarette brands as Camel, Pall Mall, Kool, Winston, Salem and Doral. For a baby-boomer like me, those products are household names after years of heavy advertising on every medium available. A smoking ban in North Carolina is comparable to a ban on driving automobiles on ozone action days in Michigan or gambling in Nevada.
This comes just a month after news that the home of the largest cigarette manufacturer in the U.S. and home of the Marlboro man enacted a smoking ban when Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine signed the bill into law in March.
North Carolina’s law is far from perfect, and it has its problems, including exempting bars. But it is a start, and it is more than Michigan has. If the two largest tobacco producing states can ban indoor smoking, why can’t Michigan?
The North Carolina law also exposes the danger of not enacting a complete ban and instead making exceptions like Michigan is considering. The N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association is vowing to fight the bill as it moves on to the Senate because they fear patrons will choose to grab some bar food and enjoy a cigarette rather than visit a restaurant and go without a smoke. However, they also ignore the peer-reviewed studies that show that’s simply not true and how less than 24 percent of the population carries so much economic clout.
This situation is very similar to Michigan, and you have to wonder if the Restaurant and Lodging Association ever supported the bill. In Michigan, the Restaurant Association has fought any smoking ban bill tooth and nail, despite what its members think.
I’ll keep an eye on this to see if Michigan or North Carolina becomes the 36th state to enact an indoor smoking ban.