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NC appeals court upholds smoking ban in bars

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- The North Carolina Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld a state ban on smoking inside bars and restaurants.

The ruling filed Tuesday strikes down a lower court ruling in which a Pitt County judge agreed with the owners of four Greenville nightclubs that the state's 2009 smoking ban violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution because private country clubs were exempted.

Appeals Judge Linda Stephens wrote that the wording of the state ban creates distinct categories of social clubs, providing clear guidance on where indoor smoking is prohibited. The judge said private golf, yachting or racquet clubs can be easily distinguished from bars and restaurants.

Since the three judge appeals panel was unanimous, it is unlikely the state Supreme Court will take up the case.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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