A very close vote in the State House Wednesday means big changes for North Carolina smokers. A 62 to 56 vote approved banning smoking in bars and restaurants in the Tar Heel state. The news was met with mixed reactions in Wilmington bars. "I feel it should be up to the owner of every establishment to make that call,” said Theresa Welch. “I very much strongly believe in that." Curtiss Pulliam, a smoker, said, "I think smoking goes along with beer drinking and I don't even think I'd come to the bar if I couldn't smoke in it." North Carolina will join 31 other states and the District of Columbia, which, by the end of this year, will have similar laws. Under the new law, smokers could get fined up to fifty dollars if they don't put out their butt after being asked. "I never thought I'd see it come to the bars," added Pulliam. "It's a decision that I make when I walk into an establishment that sells alcohol, because I know there's going to be smoke. But from a food standpoint, I'd rather not have it in the restaurant," said non-smoker Ron Moncovich. Adam Iannucci, a smoker, said, "Secondhand smoke is hazardous to people who are non-smokers and they shouldn't have to endure the secondhand smoke, but in the same sense, as tobacco as such a cash crop that founded North Carolina, we have to pay respects to that." In fact, last year North Carolina farmers produced 686 million dollars worth of tobacco. That is almost half the value of the country's output. Governor Perdue has ten days to sign the bill, which she enthusiastically endorsed. It would go into effect January 2nd.
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