The Senate Health Care Committee has recommended a scaled-back smoking ban bill that supporters hope will gain a more support than an earlier version. The latest iteration of the bill would only apply to restaurants and bars. Other workplaces, such as office buildings, would no longer be covered by the ban. Though Democratic leaders prefer a broader smoking ban that would outlaw smoking in virtually all indoor workplaces, it became clear in recent days that such a broad ban did not have enough votes to pass in the Senate. The revised measure now goes to the Senate floor. "Under this bill, you could continue to smoke where ever you want to, except in bars and restaurants," said Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland.
Senators who had previously been conflicted about the bill indicated Wednesday that they are more comfortable with the latest version. Several said they were glad that it would allow people to sit around at an old country store while having a cigarette. The revised version is the latest in a long series of iterations of the smoking bill sponsored by Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson. Last month, the House passed a version of the bill that would ban smoking in restaurants and most indoor workplaces, but not in adult-only businesses such as bars. That version angered the state's restaurant owners, who complained that it would put restaurants and bars on an uneven playing field. If the Senate passes a different version, it will be sent back to the House. The House could concur with the Senate, or a committee of legislators would be appointed to work out to work out the differences between the two chambers' versions.(James Romoser, WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 5/06/09).