And while some may be happy to know that the airways in public restaurants may be cleaner come January, restaurant and bar managers have mixed reactions to such a change.
Laura Phillips, manager of the bar section of Ribeyes is not too keen on the idea of removing smoking from her bar.
“I am biased, but I am not too happy about it,” said Phillips. And, initially, she expects that some of her clientele will be less than satisfied with such a change.
“At first, I think people will be upset, but as time goes by, people will start to get used to it,” Phillips expressed.
Hunter’s Cafe owner, Gary Culbreth, says that while he is a non-smoker, he does not appreciate the idea of being told that his customers cannot smoke in his establishment.
Culbreth, who says that he sees about 50 to 75 customers who smoke in his restaurant daily, will not be welcoming news to his customers, but he doesn’t think that will stop them from making their way to the restaurant.
“I still think people will come. The people still have to eat,” said Culbreth.
Vanessa’s Grill owner in Salemburg, Vanessa Weber, would like things to remain the same, knowing that she can decide just how much non-smoking and smoking space she wants in her restaurant.
“I think I should be allowed to have smoking and non-smoking sections. It is too controlling, if I can’t choose,” said Weber.
In fact, while she currently has a small non-smoking section, she has been trying to set up a larger non-smoking area of her restaurant because some of her older customers need to have spaces where they can breathe easier.
However at the moment, she notes that half of her customers still choose to light up a cigarette at their leisure.
Weber is also concerned that with the state’s main industry revolving around tobacco, it may be sending a less than welcoming image, particularly to the people who grow it.
“Tobacco is our main crop, and I just think they should leave it alone,” said Weber.
Smoker and restaurant employee Louise King says she “hates” the idea that smoking will not be allowed in restaurants and bars.
“I am totally against this law. I feel like it is taking away from smoker’s rights,” said King.
But, she also concurs that this will not stop smokers from frequenting eating establishments.
“People are still going to come eat and drink,” said King.
In the meantime, according to the North Carolina General Assembly website, restaurant managers will have to prepare for the change by making sure that restaurant entrances have signs, get rid of all public ash trays and ask clients to stop smoking.
If a person chooses to not put out a cigarette, the customer could be fined up to $50.
If a restaurant manager decides to not enforce the law, the manager/owner could face a fine up to $200.
While all restaurants will be required to ban smoking, a few establishments, such a private clubs or cigar bars, will not be subject to such a change.
Katie Holland can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 136, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.