What changes will the public see when the new statewide smoking law goes into effect in January 2010?

Under current state law, smoking is already prohibited in the following locations:

  • Inside state government buildings. There is a limited exception that allows smoking for scientific or medical research. GS. 130A-493.
  • Inside state government vehicles. G.S. 130A-493.
  • Elementary and secondary schools. This law is not a statewide prohibition but rather a law directing local boards of education to adopt policies prohibiting tobacco use in school buildings and facilities, on school campuses, in or on any property owned by the school, and at school-sponsored events at other locations. There is a limited exception that allows the use of tobacco products in conjunction with certain instructional or research activities. G.S. 115C-407.
  • State correctional facilities (i.e., prisons). There is a limited exception that allows the use of tobacco products for religious purposes. G.S. 148-23.1.
  • Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, adult care homes, rest homes, and facilities licensed to provide services for mental health, developmental disabilities or substance abuse. G.S. 131D-4.4; 131E-114.3; 131E-143; 122C-6.M

Beginning January 2, 2010, smoking will be prohibited in many more public places.

  • Smoking will not be allowed in enclosed areas of almost all restaurants and bars.
  • Smoking will not be allowed in most enclosed areas of lodging establishments, such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and inns, if the establishment prepares and serves food or drink. A lodging establishment may designate 20% of its guest rooms as smoking rooms.
  • Smoking will not be prohibited by state law in unenclosed areas of restaurants, bars, and lodging establishments. An area is considered to be enclosed if it has (1) a roof or other overhead covering and (2) walls or side coverings on all sides or on all sides but one. For example, a patio with a solid roof but no walls would be considered unenclosed but a patio that has a canvas roof and canvas walls on three of its four sides would be considered enclosed.

In addition to the new statewide law, local governments, such as cities and counties, will have new authority to adopt local laws regulating smoking in public places. A local law may not change the state law to allow smoking in restaurants, bars and lodging establishments, but it could prohibit smoking in more places. There are several limitations on and exceptions to this new local authority. See Questions 12 - 13 for additional details.

Public Officials - Courts and Judicial Administration Roles