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Gov to sign smoking ban, local govt's can pass stricter bans

Today at the North Carolina state capitol, Governor Bev Perdue has scheduled a ceremony to sign House Bill 2, which bans smoking in restaurants and bars statewide. Perdue has already called the measure historic. It also clears the way for cities and counties to pass even stricter "clean air" laws. WFAE's Julie Rose explains: A few months ago, York County and the City of Rock Hill banned smoking in restaurants and bars because South Carolina law allowed them to. North Carolina law has not - until now. House Bill 2 not only bans smoking in bars and restaurants, but also gives local governments the ability to pass additional anti-smoking ordinances in other places that are open to the public. Mecklenburg County Commissioners asked lawmakers for that power, but Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts says they're not likely to use it just yet, because a smoking ban in restaurants and bars is a good start. "I think we're gonna enjoy that victory for now and recognize if you start putting additional local restrictions, then you may be incenting people to move across county lines and such," says Roberts. "I think if we did do something, we'd want to do it carefully and look at what our neighbors are doing and try to work with them." The measure Governor Perdue will sign today is less stringent than the total ban on smoking in workplaces for which advocates had hoped. The final version, which takes effect January 2nd, still allows smoking in businesses that are not open to the public and doesn't allow local governments to change that.