Smoking Ban Now in Full Effect

Smoking Ban Now in Full Effect

December, 30, 2009, by Stacey

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As mentioned recently in a New Raleigh 2009 review article, the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars will go into effect this Saturday, January 2nd. The statewide legislation will prohibit individuals from lighting up in most establishments, with exceptions being made for private clubs, country clubs, and cigar bars. Essentially, if a business sells food or drink for pay, and is required to meet state health and sanitation codes, then smoking will be prohibited on the premises. The topic has been heavily debated, but there is no doubt that as of this weekend, it will be illegal to take a puff in many places where smoking was previously allowed in designated areas.

According to the law, smoking will no longer be allowed in “enclosed areas of restaurants and bars” and explicit guidelines are provided to distinguish which establishments are exempt. Outdoor patios and dining areas may still allow smoking in some instances; the regulation considers an area as “enclosed” if it has a roof and at least three walls or side coverings. Hotels and motels that do not sell food or drink are not affected by the ruling, though those that are may still designate up to 20% of their rooms as smoking rooms.

Some local business owners have already begun displaying no smoking signs, which is another requirement of the law for all affected restaurants, bars, and lodging facilities. The NC General Assembly cites formal findings regarding the health threats of secondhand smoke as the impetus for this new legislation.

Hookah bars remain a gray area, though the ban specifically states that they are exempt if they are not a restaurant, bar, or lodging facility, and do not sell food or drink. However, many local hookah bars also sell beverages and light snacks, meaning they would be required to follow health regulations and are thereby not exempt from the ban. A recent WRAL article notes that some hookah lounge proprietors intend to fight back against the ruling:

Tegegne Wondafrash, owner of the Harrar Hookah Cafe, 2109 Avent Ferry Road in Raleigh, said he plans to keep selling tobacco after the law takes effect. He questions why the law should apply to his business.

“Exclusively, this place is a tobacco place. People are coming here to smoke tobacco only. So we should be exempt,” he said.

Wondafrash said he has spoken with some other hookah bar owners and they plan to appeal if they get fined.

Establishments will receive two formal warnings before fines are imposed, which may be up to $200 a day. Individuals face fines of $50 for smoking in non-smoking facilities.

The North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services has posted some FAQs online to provide more information for those who have questions about the smoking ban. The ban officially begins at 12:00 a.m. on January 2, 2010, so if your New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking, you’re in luck.

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  • Al Bredenberg
    12/30 08:23 PM

    At last I can go to Your House and Watkins Grill without endangering my life!

  • Ryan
    12/31 11:32 AM

    What exactly is a “private club”?  It was my understanding that if a bar did not sell food then technically it’s considered a “private club”.

  • Greg
    12/31 11:47 AM

    It has been my understanding there is a difference between a private club and a club that requires a membership. Bars like Landmark, Foundation and Jackpot all require a membership since they don’t serve food. You will no longer be allowed to smoke at these bars.

    A private club would be a country club. They are exempt because the members essentially own the club and have an elected board to run it.

    I’m not a lawyer, so I could have completely misread the new law.

    Hookah bars SHOULD be exempt, but it seems like they won’t be in Raleigh. Most cities with smoking bans throw establishments like these a bone and allow them to operate since they are so niche.

  • Betsy
    12/31 01:57 PM

    That’s correct, Greg.  For purposes of whether the smoking ban applies, the law defines “private club” as non-profit organizations that are run by their members. 

    The unrelated “private club” definition, under which bars that sell memberships can serve alcohol without food, is unrelated to the smoking ban.  So all those “membership” bars such as Landmark and the others will still have to comply with the smoking ban.


    It’s a state law and not a city ordinance, so Raleigh is not to blame for the hookah bar situation; it’s the same for hookah bars everywhere in the state.

  • Greg
    12/31 02:28 PM

    Good call on the state vs. city, Betsy. Hookah bars in Graham and Ahoskie should be able to operate, too!

  • klute
    12/31 06:56 PM

    I can’t wait to go to Jackpot & not have my clothes smell like a grease fire the next day.

  • Micah
    12/31 08:54 PM

    I wonder if anyone will even BE at the Jackpot anymore?  So much of the crowd there smokes!  They don’t have a secured patio or anything, so smokers will have to go out the main door to the street.  I can see this being a headache for the door person to keep up with on busy nights.

  • Varani
    12/31 10:22 PM

    Jackpot patrons should just be allowed to smoke in the Green House until the place catches fire and burns to the ground so no one has to pay to demolish the place that should have been saved years ago.

  • RaleighRob
    01/02 12:05 PM

    If only I could go back in time before the ban passed and invested some money in an outdoor patio construction company.  I bet they’ve seen a jump in business. 

    I’m happy about the ban but do wonder about a few bars I know of that definitely don’t have good outdoor seating.  Hope they are able to adjust somehow.

  • Brian
    01/02 01:11 PM

    Just something to think about for the coming months/years:

    Granted, Raleigh doesn’t have the thousands of bars to keep an eye on that NYC does, but it does make one curious amid the “lack of enforcement funds” talk.

  • michelle
    01/02 02:16 PM

    Brian, have you taken into consideration the number of off-duty police officers that stand at the doors of bars and clubs? Glenwood South had a heavy police presence before this even took affect. Downtown Raleigh’s police district has a lot of officers in a relatively small area.

    Also, to quote that article, “The smoker [...] slyly obscured his cigarette behind the knee-high table that held his $400 bottle of Belvedere, assorted mixers and a pack of Parliaments.”  I feel like in a bar that has money being thrown around like that, you could still do a line off a hookers ass and the cocktail waitress will pretend they didn’t notice.

  • nate
    01/02 10:16 PM

    It’s my understanding that the Health Department will be enforcing this not the RPD so I’m not sure a off duty officer will necessarily be effective.

  • Arthur
    01/02 11:29 PM

    They have had this same law in NY and CA and its worked out well.

  • JRD
    01/02 11:58 PM

    I was so happy about the ban, but found myself wanting to smoke but not wanting to go outside.  Its soooooooooo cold!  Haha!  Aint that a bitch.

  • Justin
    01/03 07:24 PM

    I just went to a bar that was formerly a really smoky place and it was literally a breath of fresh air.  You really don’t realize how bad it was until it’s not there anymore.  Thank goodness!

  • joetarheel
    01/03 09:03 PM

    Went to Hibernian for lunch today and for the first time I didn’t have to cut my way through the clouds of smoke to get to the dining area!

    What a pleasant experience!

  • Brian
    01/04 06:48 AM

    “Brian, have you taken into consideration the number of off-duty police officers that stand at the doors of bars and clubs?”

    I suppose I haven’t, but I can’t remember the last time I was at a place that had a non-employee as a doorman/supplemental security.

    Weirdest experience for me was going to my favorite spot, sitting at the bar for a while, and then being able to smell a single cigarette as the wind blew in when someone opened the door.  Two nights before, I didn’t even notice dozens of cigarettes.

  • Jon
    01/04 01:29 PM

    It is rather ironic that the weekend the ban went into effect, it was too damn cold outside for most people to go out and smoke :)

  • VaNC
    01/04 09:01 PM

    I am just happy that I can finally take my kids to Waffle House on Saturday morning.  We always have had to go to IHOp and fight the crowds cause the Waffle House on Hillsborough in intolerably smoky.

  • JB
    01/05 10:56 AM

    We watched UNC-CH lose to Charleston last night in a new smoke free establishment.  The UNC-CH fans were crying because of the game’s outcome, but it was very pleasant to not have watering eyes due to smoke.

  • Micah
    01/05 05:29 PM

    I liked it better when the smoking ban was in partial effect.

  • Phillo
    01/05 08:14 PM

    I enjoyed the smell of cigarettes in bars where you could still breathe - a slammed Slim’s was pretty bad - as much as I’ll enjoy not have to hear people bitch and moan about smelling a cigarette. 
    I guess it’ll be interesting to see what the next big whine and cheese event will be.  I’m guessing it will be supporting an ordinance about amplified music and loud talking in bars - to protect our hearing. 
    Because boredom and past success are the parents of indignation.

  • Fight4Freedom
    01/08 01:52 AM

    I am all about respecting and protecting the rights of the non-smoking community, but I believe it should be up to the owner to make these decisions.  If you’d like to hear more about my view, please read my petition @
    If you agree, I would appreciate your signature.
    Thank you!

  • Phil
    01/22 07:07 PM

    Being a native Californian, I remember when the smoking ban came into being there. I was quite young. When I moved to NC in 2003, it seemed archaic to have cigarettes in an establishment where I just want to get something to eat.

    The smoking ban is glorious. I’ve already been frequenting the Flying Saucer for more than the patio section and a beer. They have delicious sandwiches, who knew?

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