Who'd've thunk it? North Carolina, a state that produces more tobacco then any other, where city names adorn cigarette packs (looking at you, here, Winston-Salem)... has banned smoking in bars and restaurants in bars effective Jan. 2, 2010. The state senate and house have agreed on a bill and the governor will sign it into law.
Me? I'm going to celebrate by wearing a wool sweater into a bar on Jan. 2, knowing I will not have to Febreeze it afterward.
The truth is, though, I'll likely celebrate it by going to the bar more. I cannot tell you how many times Sarah and I have gone out someplace, thought about getting a drink, and then saying "eh, don't want to deal with the smoke."
Smoking in bars, for me, has always made it so I have to be in a very specific mood to go to the bar. Because after an hour, my eyes are burning and I reek all night.
And, yes, I hear all the people saying "Oh this is going to mean people won't go to bars any more." See, that's not what happened in Boston. Or Bismarck. Or New York City. Or Houston. Or Hilton Head and Charleston. Or any number of other cities. Some bar owners have reported that they had to shut down after smoking bans went into effect. In those same cities, other bars have opened and thrived. Given the challenges of owning a bar or restaurant, it's just as likely that the bar closed because it just plain sucked, smokes or not.
Lots of folks are whining that the government should let individual business owners decide this issue. Some are saying "oh, well, let's be consistent and ban alcohol."
The thing is, if I'm sitting next to you smoking, you end up having some of the cigarette. If I am sitting next to you drinking, you don't get any of it. The common retort to that is "yes, well, what about drunk drivers?" Drunk drivers come from houses, too, kids. Separate issue.
While legal, alcohol and tobacco are controlled substances. And the involuntary ingestion of smoke is an issue. There is plenty of scientific evidence that second-hand smoke is harmful and loads of anecdotal that its just plain annoying. Drinking has none of those issues.
So, kudos to NC for not shying away from passing the law. I'll be sure to raise a glass on Jan. 2.