WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Starting January 2, 2010, non-smokers can breathe easier at area bars and restaurants.
Smokers are no longer allowed to light up inside.
Across the state, 24,000 "No Smoking" signs are being sent out to bars and restaurants to warn customers.
As you can imagine, non-smokers are very happy.
"It's awesome -- the best thing to happen to North Carolina in a long time," says Erin Morrissette. She is enjoying a smoke free night inside the Irish Pub in downtown Wilmington.
There are no more ash trays inside the bar. Now, they're outside, along with smokers who've been kicked to the curb.
"Inside, outside, you're going to find a way to smoke," says Daniel Mease. He says the new law is forcing him to smoke more. "It's cold. I smoked one, then I smoked two just because I knew I couldn't go back in to smoke."
North Carolina produces nearly half of the nation's tobacco, but complaints of second-hand smoke from customers, restaurant and bar employees led lawmakers to pass the new law.
Ann Johnson's New Year's resolution is to kick the habit. The new law may help her.
"It makes me feel positive about not being in a smoky place when I want to go out to eat," says Johnson.
That's the very reason Morrissette is at the bar. "For everyone to breathe clean air -- to go out and be healthy. It's great for everyone."
North Carolina is the 29th state to ban smoking in restaurants and ranked 24th to pass the law for bars.
Anyone who refuses to comply with the law could face a $50 fine.