Breathe Easy–Just Not in NC

lungsNorth Carolinians won’t be breathing easier any time soon. Yesterday, the House failed to pass a measure that would restrict smoking in public and work places. The bill (HB 259) sponsored by Rep. Hugh Holliman failed on a vote of 61:55.

In addition to battling second-hand smoke indoors, North Carolinians are battling increased particle pollution outdoors. A new report, “American Lung Association State of the Air: 2007 ” shows a troubling trend of higher soot levels in the eastern US.

Particle pollution comes from many sources. The particles are usually a complex mixture that can include ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals, and aerosols.  In the eastern U.S., many particles come from power plants that burn coal to produce electricity. In the western U.S., many come from diesel buses, trucks, and heavy equipment, as well as agriculture and wood burning.

The report gives 4 North Carolina counties a failing grade for particle pollution: Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake. Air quality in other areas of the state was only slightly better. People most sensitive to poor air quality are children and teens, the elderly, people with asthma and other lung diseases and even healthy people who work or exercise outdoors. In North Carolina, 6.4 million people are at risk of having lung problems as a result of poor air quality.

“The increased particle pollution in the East is a particularly troubling trend, because exposure to particle pollution can not only take years off your life, it can  threaten your life immediately,” said Terri E. Weaver, PhD, RN, American Lung Association Chair.

Rep. Holliman and the other legislators who supported the smoking ban should be commended for their efforts to protect our air quality and our health. Hopefully, they will continue with their efforts. The state needs to do everything in its power to curb air pollution, indoors and outdoors so we can all breath easier.


  1. Dallas Woodhouse

    May 3, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Smoking Ban Defeat Victory For Private Property Owners

    Americans for Prosperity – North Carolina Grassroots Members Key To Victory

    The North Carolina State House defeated a proposed statewide smoking ban after grassroots members of Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina and other supporters of private property rights expressed opposition to the proposed private property smoking ban.

    “From day one Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina has pointed out that any restaurant owner in North Carolina is free to operate a smoke-free establishment and many have elected to do so, based on feedback from their patrons and employees, and this is how it should be,” said AFP-NC Communications Director Dallas Woodhouse.

    “While we should all be mindful of health concerns, people in a free society should be able to make choices that other people may not agree with. The vote on the North Carolina House Floor was a historic victory for individual liberty and private property rights.”

  2. sturner

    May 3, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Well done, Dallas. You and all the other rugged individualists at Americans for Prosperity must be pretty proud of yourselves tonight. You’re probably sitting in your guy room with your feet on the table, smokin’ stogies and blowing smoke rings at one another. No stinkin’ carcinogen is going to trample your individual liberties. God Bless America.
    Now that you’ve shown those asthmatic wheezers a thing or two about a real man’s view of property rights, it’s time to go after the cripples. Private property owners are sick and tired of having to pamper the wheelchair crowd with those endless ramps and the bathrooms with the really, really wide doors.

    In all seriousness, Dallas, read your last paragraph. By your reasoning, why should a property owner be bothered to make their establishment handicap accessible? Is this what your group really wants? Do they really pay someone to be a Communications Director for a group to advocate for this crap? Why do I believe Americans for Prosperity’s real objective is the unregulated, ruthless pursuit of profit, and phrases like “individual liberty” and “private property rights” are just a smokescreen?

  3. gregflynn

    May 4, 2007 at 7:19 am

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    welfare n. 1. health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being. [

  4. aplum

    May 4, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Yeah, funny how they list health before prosperity. Those guys that wrote the Constitution had their priorities straight. Too bad 200+ years of prosperity have warped ours.

  5. krm0517

    May 4, 2007 at 8:41 am

    “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but
    an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” – James Madison, 1792

    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined . . . to be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” – James Madison, Federalist 45

    “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1798

  6. sturner

    May 4, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    To my knowledge, neither James Madison nor Thomas Jefferson spoke specifically to the dangers of second-hand smoke. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but let me venture a guess that both krm0517 and Dallas are “strict constructionists” when it comes to judge preferences. Am I right? So, if Jefferson and Madison didn’t specifically address something then it becomes a “states rights” issue by default?

    So Dallas (and now krm0517, too) you haven’t really answered the question. Should private property owners with public accommodations (i.e. restaurants, retail, bars, doctor offices, etc) be legally required to make their establishments handicap accessible?

  7. Dallas Woodhouse

    May 4, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I have ashma by the way, and yes I am ok with some parts of the ADA

  8. gregflynn

    May 4, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

  9. krm0517

    May 5, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    I only posted because gregflynn quoted the constitution and was so far off base that it borders on the ridiculous. The framers never intended for government to have enough power to control what free people do in private establishments. To suggest that the framers wanted the government to somehow provide and protect the welfare of individuals shows a clear lack of understanding of political and philosophical history.

    The line of thinking that you guys are promoting – that government should protect us from our vices – comes from Rousseau and is commonly referred to as utopian socialism in both political science and philosophy. Rousseuu believed that we, as human beings, are slaves to our vices – addictions such as sex, alcohol, tobacco. “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” He advocated a General Will – a totolitarian socialist society – in which man would be “forced to be free” by an enlightened government.

    I’d rather live in an American distopia – in which I can go where I want, be with whom I want, and do what I want on private property, even if there are negative consequences – than to live in a Rousseau inspired socialist utopia where individual rights are trampled on and disgarded.

  10. krm0517

    May 5, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Sturner – I am not sure if you can call me a strict constructionist or not. I do know that in Gitlow v. New York the Supreme Court acknowledged that the states have to provide its citizens with the same protections that the federal constitution provides – i.e., the U.S. Congress can not take away your right of free speech, nor can the N.C. Legislature.

    Since gregflynn quoted the preamble – which is not law but rather political rhetoric – I will take this occasion to quote another piece of political rhetoric from that era, the Declaration of Independence with respect to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As we all know from the wonderful educations we recieved in the NC public school system, this is a direct reference to John Locke’s famous “life, liberty and estate.”

    Locke believed man could not be happy unless there was some form of government to protect us as individuals from each other. Without government, we would all live in perpetual state of war with one another. Government is therefore necessary to protect our lives, our freedoms and our property from the greed and violence of others.

    In the same way that it is clear that our forefathers wanted to have a government that would protect our lives, liberty and property so that we could all pursue happiness as free individuals, I believe the states have an obligation to do the same.

  11. sturner

    May 5, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    krm…That was fun. And interesting.
    As to vices, I do not want the government to protect me from my vices. In fact, I would legalize (and tax) drugs if it were up to me. However, I do want the government to protect me from your vices. Since second-hand smoke is not only a vice to you, but a carcinogen to me, I believe it ought to be regulated more strictly.

    Believe me, I have no interest in judging or legislating morality in anyone else. But when you move from the privacy of your home to a public establishment (whether or not it is a privately owned business), then different standards apply. I think the NC Legislature blew it. And it is revealing that yet again monied interests won out over public health and common sense.

  12. gregflynn

    May 5, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    The constitution does not specifically enumerate “property rights”. That is a construct that has been propagated with “political rhetoric” without foundation in the constitution.

    The most that the constitution says about property is that:

    No person shall be … deprived of … property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
    nor shall any State deprive any person of … property, without due process of law;

    The constitution does not say you can do anything you want with your property regardless of the impact on others or their property.

  13. […] As I mulled over the defeat of common sense this week (smoking ban bill defeated 61 to 55) I was having trouble getting in touch with the better angels of my nature.  How the hell do you make progress within a political system that is owned and operated by corporate special interests (big tobacco, in this case)?   I then came upon a fascinating  and relevant article that is a variation on whether the ends justify the means.  See if you agree: […]

  14. krm0517

    May 7, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    sturner – If you leave the privacy of your own home, enter someone elses private property (business or otherwise), and then use the threat and/or use of violence (i.e. government regulation) to force everyone else who likewise chooses to visit that establishment to behave in a manner that you deem appropriate, then you are “judging or legislating morality in anyone else.” Like it or not.

    gregflynn – Read the Federalist Papers, Two Treatises on Government by Locke, and a few other historical writings from the period when the Constitution was written (i.e. put it in context), and then reread the Constitution. I promise it will all make sense to you then.

  15. sturner

    May 7, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    krm…you really seem to be twisting yourself in knots over this one. Can’t you see the distinction here…your actions (which you have control over) are endangering my health (the effects of which I have no control). Is it “judgmental” for me to point this out to you?
    You also seem to casually equate different types of private property (“business or otherwise”). Again, that is an important distinction. If I try to stop you from smoking in your home, then I am a sanctimonious ass. If I am at a public establishment enjoying a dinner with my family and you blow smoke in my face…then who is the ass? Remember, the CDC has established that second-hand smoke is a known carcinogen. Why do you believe your “right” to smoke is more important than my “right” to protect my health?
    Finally, krm, do you believe smoking should have been banned on airplanes? Wasn’t that another example of the “use of violence to force others to behave in a way that some deem appropriate?”

  16. gregflynn

    May 8, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Silly me, I thought the preamble was context.

    Read Environmental Health Perspectives and then reread the Constitution. I promise you it will all make sense to you then.

  17. krm0517

    May 8, 2007 at 10:43 am

    First of all, I am not a smoker – never have been.

    Secondly, you choose to enter a restaurant and enjoy a dinner with your family – this is totally voluntary on your part and on the part of everyone else who chooses to visit the establishment. No one has forced you to visit an establishment that allows people to smoke if they so choose.

    Thirdly, private property is private property. Someone has worked for and earned the deed to the property. This person has a right to sale this property at anytime and to use this property in a way that is beneficial to them (either as a residence or as a place to earn a profit of some sort). There are limitations on what you can do with your private property, of course. For instance, you can not discriminate against people for their race by excluding them from your place of business. Should the government be able to force business to discriminate against preferences and behaviors in your opinion?

    Just because the government has infringed on private property rights in the past does not give it carte blanche to control what you do on your property. For instance, you can’t shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. Does this mean that since the government has already infringed on our freedom of speech in the past, there is no reason to oppose further infringement?

    Finally, you have just as much right to protect your health as someone else has a right to endanger their own. You can always visit an establishment that doesn’t allow smoking or you could always cook something on your property… your choice.

  18. sturner

    May 8, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    krm…Can’t tell if you’re some type of private property nut or just like to argue for the sake of argument. I’ll assume it’s the latter.

    I’m no attorney. My opinions are biased towards science and common sense rather than technical legal arguments, but here’s how I see it: It seems to me that the private property owner is obligated to ensure a minimal standard of safety to the patrons. (I hope) we can all agree on that. Otherwise, restaurants could be unsanitary and serve tainted foods, there could be a rotted floorboard at the balcony at the theater, etc. I suppose where we disagree is the level of risk involved here…exactly what is the “minimal standard of safety” that the private property owner is responsible for. As the scientific data becomes more clear on the dangers of second-hand smoke, I believe the pendulum should swing in the direction of ensuring health rather than private property rights.

    You ask, “Should the government be able to force business to “discriminate” against behaviors?” Yes, if that behavior injures me.

    Your reasoning in paragraph four is, I think, nonsense. The reason you can’t shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater is BECAUSE THE SAFETY OF YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS IS THREATENED. We now have the scientific knowledge to confirm that the reason you shouldn’t be allowed to subject others to second-hand smoke is BECAUSE THE SAFETY OF YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS IS THREATENED. The second-hand smoke threat may not be as imminent as a stampede through an exit, but the threat is real. Did you know there is some evidence that inhalation of second-hand smoke can trigger an acute coronary event (ie. “heart attack”) in susceptible patients? So yes, there are occasions where both free speech and private property rights should be regulated.

    Your final paragraph reveals how inconsistent your reasoning is on this subject. Read that first sentence again. Of course I have a right to protect my health and smokers have a right to endanger their own. However, smokers do not have the right to endanger my health, and the evidence suggests that is exactly what they are doing.

  19. krm0517

    May 9, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Do you believe in freedom at all? Individual liberty?

    You cannot say you do if you believe you have the right to control whether or not other people are “a sanctimonious ass.” When you voluntarily enter someone elses property and then demand laws to control the behavior of everyone in that establishment to accommodate your personal preferences, you are subverting the liberty of the property owner and the personal choices of others.

    Without choice there is no freedom. You must have the ability to make choices in order to be a free person.

    Some people will choose to do stupid things. Others will choice to avoid risky behavior. Some people will choose to visit places that allow risky behavior. Others will avoid those places in order to avoid the risky behavior.

    You want to take people’s choices away from them in order to accommodate your personal preference – which is to avoid risky behavior. I admire that you want to avoid risky behavior. I don’t admire the fact that you want to impose your preferences on others rather than just not visit places that allow smoking. It’s real easy to do… You just have to choose to do so.

    I am neither a “private property nut or just like to argue for the sake of argument.” I am just someone who truly believes that in 100 years history will remember the United States as a failed exercise in personal freedom unless people stand up to the marching tide of leftists who want to use the government to impose their preferences on everyone else.

    “Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).” – Ayn Rand

  20. sturner

    May 9, 2007 at 10:45 am

    krm…you are getting hysterical. I have stated an opinion about a specific issue….second-hand smoke….and now I am freedom hating and trying to subvert individual liberty? You’ve got to get a grip.

    By the way, which of the “preferences that the marching tide of leftists” have imposed on this country do you object to: The Voting Rights Act which outlawed Jim Crow laws; Brown v. Board of Education which outlawed the bigotry of “separate but equal” institutions; childhood labor and workplace safety regulations; women’s reproductive rights; Americans With Disabilities Act; etc, etc

    Anyway, let’s wind this up. One last question, to which a yes or no answer will suffice. And no, I don’t want to know what Rousseau, Locke, Madison, Jefferson, Rand, Nietzsche, or Kierkegaard would say.

    Do you believe the overwhelming scientific evidence that second-hand smoke is harmful?

  21. krm0517

    May 9, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Yes. That is why I choose to avoid it -by not giving my hard earned money to establishments that allow smoking- rather than promote the idea that government should force everyone to comply with my preferences.

    I have been talking about the same issue the entire time:


    You have a choice not to go in establishments that allow smoking. Unlike on, say airplanes, where people may have little if any choice to be in, no one is forcing you to enter a steak house or a bar-b-que hut. You made the decision to do so. If people are smoking there, and you want to avoid the smoke, LEAVE. Get take-out, go elsewhere, cook at home! No one is forcing you to be there.

    If other people choose to be there, that is their decision. Earlier you brought up sanitation laws, building codes, etc. Those are unseen dangers. People cannot choice to avoid that which they have no knowledge of. If you want to start a public awareness campaign on the dangers of second hand smoke – more power to you my friend. I doubt there are that many people in this country who are not aware of the dangers, though. Yet they still choose to use tobacco and be around people who use it.

    People who cannot make choices about what is good for them, what makes them happy, and what they want to do and who they want to do it with are not free people.

    You want to take away other people’s ability to make choices for themselves to appease your selfish desire to not be inconvienenced (inconienenced in the sense that you don’t want to choose to get take-out, go elsewhere, cook at home, etc).

  22. krm0517

    May 9, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    With respect to the comment about leftism in America,

    I am referring to the mindset that what is good for the collective is always better than what is good for the individual. Perhaps I should have used the term “collectivist” rather than leftist. My apologies.

    I was not referring to any particular act of Congress. Let us not forget our civics leasons here. No single party has a monopoly on the legislative process in the US. This was not even a remark toward any particular party, as the taint of collectivism can affect anyone regardless of whether or not they have an R or a D beside their name.

    Republicans have recently subverted personal liberties with the Patriot Act in the name of the public good. Democrats are no different except they cling to different issues (like smoking bans). In the end, the results are the same – liberty slowly gets chipped away.

  23. sturner

    May 10, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Sorry, krm, but invoking “freedom of choice” in this case so that you can “preserve liberty” is a poor rationalization.

    I’ll take it as a given that you revere privacy and civil liberties above all else. There is no more vigorous defender of those rights than the ACLU. I assume you are a member. My membership has lapsed, but in general I am sympathetic to most of their positions. Here is what they have to say on this issue:

    “The ACLU does not oppose smoking bans in public buildings, in the workplace or in locations where non-smokers may be subjected to secondary smoke. We object only to bans on smoking, drinking, diet and hobbies in a person’s own home.’

    I would say that if the ACLU won’t support your interpretation of civil liberties, than you are pretty far out on the limb (most likely sitting next to a free-market fundamentalist).

    I don’t want to get too extreme here (because the second-hand smoke argument stands on its’ own merits), but there are plenty of examples where choice is appropriately limited. Would you have given Cho in Blacksburg the liberty to bristle with all the firepower modern gunmakers could bestow upon him? After all, he had no record of violent crime. What about child safety seats?

    Finally, give me one last try to afflict you in your comfortable one-man-liberty bubble. You note that you “doubt there are that many people in this country who are not aware of the dangers” (of second-hand smoke). Sadly, you are mistaken. I am an Internal Medicine physician in private practice and I can assure you this information is not well known. I have plenty of well-meaning parents who continue to smoke in their car and house when their children are present (and before you go berserk I recognize their right to do so). If motivated parents do not understand this, do you really expect the busboy, bartender, and shopworker to be up-to-date on the latest data? I suspect the amount of misinformation is particularly high in North Carolina, with our “rich tradition of tobacco.”

    I guess we both need to charitably concede we think the other is nuts on this issue. Thanks for the exchange of opinions. I enjoyed it.

  24. mad dog

    May 15, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    People! People! People! You have to understand that these ‘progressives’ are a bunch of illiberal busybodies who really just want to force bureaucracy and regulations down our throats. Hey progressive crybabies! I have some solutions for your problems:


    solution: Don’t go to that restaurant!


    solution: Half a second of exposure to smoke has practically no effect.


    solution: Get OUT of the car, take a walk, take the bus, or get your own car you bum!


    solution: Don’t try to steal my wallet, and you will be safe. You will have to finance your drug habits in other ways.


    solution: TURN your radio dial… ANNDDD, you won’t hear him anymore! YAY!


    solution: shop somewhere else. Tell your friends to do the same

  25. krm0517

    May 20, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Sturner – three points

    One – Just because the ACLU (who claims to support individual liberty) doesn’t have a problem with this particular assault on individual liberty, I don’t have to goose-step down that path with them. I am a rational being with the ability to evaluate an issue on its merits and don’t have to engage in “group think” or conform to the collective concordance of others. They have their own political motives. I’m tired of watching the “Safety Nazis” in this country chip away personal freedom for the sake of the supposed collective good.

    Two – How would you know if someone with a gun is planning to shot a bunch of people at a campus today? You can’t because it is an unpredictable, random act of violence. You can, however, easily determine whether or not smoking is allowed in an establisment and choose to avoid that danger. As for child safety seats, comparing automobile fatalities to second-hand smoking fatalities is ridiculous. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among children under the age of 14 according to the CDC. There is no documented case of a child ever having died from second hand smoke to my knowledge.

    Third – I guess I just have more faith in people than you do.

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