Burlington alters smoking law

Secondhand Smoke

City Council of Burlington enacted a modification to the city’s smoking ordinance on November 20, successfully prohibiting smoking in premises next to restaurants starting with December 1.

During the council meeting’s public hearing on the proposed ordinance modification, six individuals spoke in support of the additional law, and recommended city councilmen on taking steps against secondhand smoke.

In June, city staff created a modification to a city ordinance that aimed at the spread of cigarette smoke from building to building, but that first draft was determined to be too difficult to implement.

In November this year, interim city attorney Charles Bateman implemented a new variant of the proposed modification, which would remove smoking in establishments next to restaurants in strip malls.

As outlined by North Carolina state law, smoking is already banned in restaurants. The new modification will help ensure smoke from nearest businesses won’t move into restaurants.

Cole lives in Elon and is the owner of The Tuscany Grille at 3557 S. Church Street in Burlington for seven years. On November 20, he told councilmen that in the past year, since an Internet sweepstakes businesses relocated in next door, moving smoke has lost him patronage.

Four people supported Cole’s story, stating they liked the food but couldn’t be in the premise with cigarette smoke.

“If it was any other restaurant, I would not be coming back again,” said Suzanne Blalock of Whitsett. She said that during the last two months, she said 15 people who got out of the restaurant due to the smoke.

“We’ve been visiting this restaurant for three, four years and the food and atmosphere was excellent there,” said Ann Castagna of McLeansville. But, she said, she’s gone to the restaurant less often since the smoke-causing business relocated near the restaurant.

The implemented modification will ban smoking in “enclosed places to which the public is invited or allowed when such enclosed places are situated within a building or structure which houses multiple tenants and such enclosed place is situated right next to a restaurant situated within the same structure.”

At the moment in Burlington, there are 108 restaurants that are straight away to other businesses. And there around 160 adjoining tenants whose businesses will now have to be tobacco-free, or released references for noncompliance.

Though some who spoke during the public hearing desired the City Council to regulate even tougher on secondhand smoke, recommending prohibiting smoking on pavements or in city parks, Owen responded that the rule won’t contain the space of pavement in front of affected businesses.

The fire department and city staff will inform the businesses situated next to restaurants, and therefore affected by the changed rule, before it becomes operational beginning December 1, 2012.

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