NC Senate clears smoking ban in restaurants, bars

RALEIGH, NC (AP) - The North Carolina Senate has joined in approving a public smoking ban in the country's largest tobacco-growing state.

The Senate voted 30-18 on Monday to approve a measure to ban lighting up in all enclosed restaurants and bars. Senators gave their initial OK last week.

The proposal returns to the state House, which passed a broader version banning smokers from places where children under age 18 visit or work.

That would have allowed smoking in self-standing bars but barred it from restaurants with bar sections. The House could agree with the Senate or seek a compromise.

Supporters say secondhand smoke is a preventable health risk.

Opponents argued a ban violates the right of business owners to choose whether to allow smoking.

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