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Appeals court hears challenge to NC's smoking ban

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- A lawsuit challenging North Carolina's law requiring restaurants and bars to be smoke-free is getting a hearing by appeals court judges.

The state Court of Appeals hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case in which a Greensboro pool hall owner challenges the law's exception for private clubs. An attorney for Gate City Billiards Club owner Don Liebes says that violates the constitutional right of equal protection.

Liebes says he sometimes allows smoking because he believes banning it completely would cost him about 30 percent of his revenues.

A ruling by the court's three-judge panel is weeks or months away.

State officials report that the vast majority of restaurants and bars in the state appear to be obeying the ban. A restaurant association continues to support the ban.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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