What’s the law?
House Bill 2 bans smoking in certain public places and places of employment. It requires restaurant and bar owners to remove all ashtrays, post state-distributed nonsmoking signs (even if the businesses are already smoke-free) and restrict patrons from lighting up.
Who does it apply to?
All of the more than 24,000 restaurants and bars in the state are subject to the ban, except for a few that have gained exemptions. Lodges also must enforce the law.
Cigar bars that generate more than 60 percent of their quarterly gross revenue from alcohol and 25 percent or more from cigars aren’t subject to the law as long as they file quarterly reports with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Nor are private, nonprofit clubs that are incorporated or not required to pay federal income taxes.
Tobacco shops, which sell tobacco but not food or alcohol, are OK as long as the smoke doesn’t migrate to neighboring businesses. Tobacco shops that opened after July 1, 2009, can allow smoking only if they are in a freestanding structure. The law also allows hotels to have up to 20 percent of their rooms as smoking. Tobacco manufactures are exempt, as are film production sets that feature smoking by actors.
How is it enforced?
The State Division of Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Brach is overseeing the law’s implementation. The process is complaint driven, meaning the public is encouraged to report violations by calling 1-800-662-7030 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. or by filling out a complaint form at smokefree.nc.gov. Complaints are transferred each week to local health directors who follow up with the business in question. They provide educational packets before moving into the violation and fine process. Businesses must receive two warnings before the health department can begin fining them $200 per violation. Customers also can receive $50 fines if they refuse to comply with the ban.
Who funds it?
Legislators didn’t provide funding when the law passed, but the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch has received $281,000 in grants from the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust fund and the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights Foundation. That money can only be used for education and was split among the state’s 85 health departments.