Senate committee limits local control, regulations on outdoor smoking (video)

Members of a Senate committee advanced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit local governments and community colleges from regulating outdoor smoking in any manner that is more restrictive than State law.

Senator Buck Newton, the sponsor of Senate Bill 703, told members of the Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources committee that it was ‘ridiculous’ that adult smokers could not enjoy tobacco on a windy beach, a city sidewalk, or while sitting on the back of their pick-up truck on a community college campus.

Several Senators noted that their local community colleges opposed this bill, and wanted to keep their campuses smoke-free. But Newton said smokers were unhappy.

And with lawmakers urging Newton to amend his legislation, Senator Andrew Brock expedited a voice vote on SB 703, allowing it to advance to the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee.

Following the hearing, Pam Seamans with the NC Alliance for Health issued a statement calling on the NC General Assembly to reject Newton’s bill and maintain strong smoke-free laws:

“SB 703 would repeal the authority of local governments and community colleges to prohibit smoking on outdoor grounds, including parks, and eliminate the choice that local governments have in protecting their citizens from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Currently, 56 of the 58 community colleges have taken local action to protect students and faculty from the dangers of second-hand smoke, and 35 have become completely tobacco free, but if it passes, SB 703 would force these campuses to go back to the days where smokers gathered outside classroom buildings and everyone coming and going ended up smelling of smoke.

North Carolina has a long and proud tradition of maintaining decision making at the local level—where it is closest to the people and most responsive to their needs.  The ability of our towns, counties and community colleges to do what they think is best is paramount as the General Assembly considers SB 703. Those communities that want to take action to protect health can, and those that do not wish to, don’t have to. Leave the decision-making up to those closest to the community.”

SB 703 could be on the Senate floor later this week. To hear a portion of Tuesday’s debate, click below:
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8 Comments

  1. david esmay

    May 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Nothing like “small” government conservatives.

  2. JeffS

    May 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Pollute with your car. Pollute with your factory. Pollute with your fracking chemicals, but don’t you dare pollute with a cigarette.

    I’m sure Buck has a lobbyist check in his coat pocket, but I’m not completely against him. I’ve yet to see a consistent stance on local vs state vs national powers. People tend to waffle depending on the issue being discussed.

  3. P Parsons

    May 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    These dinosaurs are apparently trying to get everyone who has moved here for quality of life reasons to move away. I hope they enjoy losing the business and tax base as a result. They are making this state a laughing stock!

  4. Rip

    May 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    These people got a lot of nerve claiming anything is ridiculous….

  5. Posmo

    May 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Whatever Buck Newton is smoking is not legal.

  6. Doug

    May 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I thought this was what you guys were all about…..more control at the highest level possible……imagine the turn around when it suits you. LOL.

  7. david esmay

    May 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    No Doug, micro-managing local governments to suit right-wing ideology and corporations is what you’re all about.

  8. Tami Kennedy

    May 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    The reach of upper levels of government is too extensive, just ask the GOP. Oh wait…