tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves

Smoking ban faces steeper hill in Senate

The proposed ban on smoking in restaurants and other businesses is now in the hands of the N.C. Senate, where it has the support of the powerful Democratic leader.

“My take would be that, yes, we would pass it,” Marc Basnight, the Senate’s president pro tem, said yesterday.

But the bill’s fate is far from clear, because it faces new opposition from the state’s restaurant owners, who are angry over an amendment to the bill that occurred in the N.C. House.

Until this week, the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association had stayed on the sidelines. The group agreed to remain neutral as long as the smoking ban applied evenly to all restaurants and bars. The original bill, sponsored by state Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, would have done that.

But on Wednesday, some House members successfully passed an amendment that carved out an exception for establishments that are restricted to people 18 or older.

As a practical matter, the amendment would let age-restricted bars and nightclubs continue to allow smoking.

But restaurants would have to prohibit indoor smoking — or, if they wanted to allow smoking, they would have to restrict their clientele to adults only.

“It no longer presents a level playing field,” said Paul Stone, the president and CEO of the restaurant association.

Many restaurants are family friendly during the day and evening, but also have bars that attract customers at night. If those restaurants are forced to ban smoking, they will lose some of their bar business to age-restricted nightclubs, where smoking could still go on, Stone said.

“We will actively lobby in the Senate and do a grass-roots effort with our industry across the state, and the message will be that we want to oppose the bill outright,” Stone said.

The opposition of the restaurant association is politically important because it gives momentum to critics in the legislature who worry that broad restrictions on smoking will hurt business owners.

Basnight acknowledged the group’s strength.

“It certainly wouldn’t enhance it, having anyone lobby against a change such as this,” said Basnight, D-Dare. “But then again, the reason for the bill is one of health.”

The bill cleared the House yesterday, one day after members gave initial approval to the bill. On both days, the vote was 75-42, with Democrats generally in favor and Republicans generally opposed, although a number of members of both parties crossed party lines.

Before the final approval yesterday, the House passed another amendment to create an exception that would allow smoking in private, nonprofit clubs such as country clubs and fraternal groups. The amendment was proposed by Rep. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth.

Now that the bill has been sent to the Senate, it will have many more chances to be amended. If the Senate passes a different version from the House version, members of both chambers will hold a “conference committee” to work out a compromise.

That worries Stone, because conference committees, unlike other legislative meetings, are not held in public, and bills that emerge from conference committees can be unpredictable.

Despite the long fight ahead for the smoking bill, supporters and opponents said its passage in the House represents a turning point in the state’s history.

During the floor debate in the House yesterday, Rep. Bill McGee, R-Forsyth, who voted against the bill, offered what he called “sort of a eulogy” for tobacco in North Carolina.

He spoke of his lifelong personal ties to the tobacco industry and the state’s longtime dependence on it. McGee said he was disturbed to hear other legislators deriding cigarettes solely as destructive products.

“I don’t consider myself a bad person,” said McGee, who worked for more than 10 years at R.J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem. “I don’t accept that what I did caused misery.”

McGee said that everyone in North Carolina has been touched by economic benefits from tobacco. The state remains the largest grower of tobacco in the nation.

“Please remember our state’s tobacco dependence,” he said. “And don’t disparage its contributions.”

Source: 2.journalnow

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1 comment to Smoking ban faces steeper hill in Senate

  • I don’t smoke and frankly I’m not a big fan of the smoking ban. I think it’s not a fair law and it obliges peoples and makes a large percent of the population of the US to be outlawed

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