Monday, January 4, 2010
Anybody else notice that a recent Arctic blast hit the mid-Atlantic region just about the same time that the statewide smoking ban in North Carolina restaurants and bars took effect on Jan. 1? Is it a sign that perhaps another place with an even warmer climate froze over? Given that North Carolina is the country's largest tobacco-producing state, few probably would be surprised.
"Even as recently as a decade ago, this was unthinkable," Ferrel Guillory, a professor and political expert at UNC Chapel Hill, told the Charlotte Observer. The new law imposes a fine of up to $50 for smoking inside bars and restaurants and $200 for business owners who permit smoking.
Some bars and restaurants have expanded their patio options to allow smoking outdoors, while others are getting around the ban by choosing to operate as a private club. But others embraced the change enthusiastically. “We expect a 15 to 20 percent increase in business,” Doug Jones, who owns Fishers Grille in downtown Greensboro, told the Greensboro News-Record. “We’ve had people say they’d bring their families if it weren’t for the smoke.”