Smoking Regulations in North Carolina

North Carolina’s Smoking in Public Places (PDF) legislation, was enacted on April 15, 1993 with the intent to protect the health of individuals in public places and places of employment and riding in State government vehicles from the risks related to secondhand smoke. It was further intended of the General Assembly to allow local governments to adopt local laws governing smoking within their jurisdictions that are more restrictive than the State law. [i]   The regulations governing smoking also intent to address the needs and concerns of both smokers and nonsmokers in public places by providing for designated smoking and nonsmoking areas.[ii]  The Act allows a complete ban on smoking in state-controlled buildings but requires the rest of state-controlled buildings to reserve at least 20% of the interior space for indoor smoking, unless physically impracticable.[iii]

The buildings that may be designated as nonsmoking include library open to the public, museums open to the public in areas established as a nonsmoking area, so long as at least twenty percent (20%) of the interior space of equal quality is designated as a smoking area, unless physically impracticable.  Smoking is also not allowed in indoor space of State-controlled building such as an auditorium, arena, or coliseum as well as in educational buildings primarily involved in health care instruction and the grounds of those buildings.  North Carolina further prohibits smoking in facilities of The University of North Carolina and the grounds of those facilities, unless specifically exempted from the regulations.[iv]

The legislation relating to smoking does not apply to primary and secondary schools (except teacher’s lounges), childcare centers (except teachers’ lounges), enclosed elevator, public school buses, hospitals, nursing homes, rest homes, local health departments, nonprofit agencies whose primary purpose is to discourage tobacco use, tobacco processing and administrative facilities, indoor arenas, State correctional facilities, Community colleges, the buildings, grounds, and walkways of the University of North Carolina Health Care System and of the East Carolina University School of Medicine, Health Sciences Complex, and Medical Faculty Practice Plan.[v]  Exempted buildings do not have to reserve an indoor smoking area, and local governments are free to impose more stringent smoking restrictions than those provided in the state legislation.[vi]

During the 2003 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law exempting certain University of North Carolina campus buildings from the requirement of having 20% of the interior space to be designated as a smoking area.[vii]  In 2005, laws were passed exempting the local health departments and departments of social services, including indoors and up to 50 feet from buildings, the Greensboro Coliseum, and NC prison buildings from the state law.  In 2006, smoking was banned in the Legislative buildings.

The person in charge of the building where smoking is prohibited shall conspicuously post or cause to be posted, in any area designated as a smoking or nonsmoking area, one or more signs stating that smoking is or is not permitted in the area.[viii]

A person who continues to smoke in a nonsmoking area despite notice by the person in charge of the building or area that smoking is not permitted is guilty of an infraction and will be liable for a fine of not more than $ 25.[ix]

[i] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 130A-491 

[ii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-595

[iii] http://www.tobaccopreventionandcontrol.ncdhhs.gov/shs/preemption.htm

[iv] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-597(a)

[v] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-599

[vi] http://www.tobaccopreventionandcontrol.ncdhhs.gov/shs/preemption.htm

[vii] http://www.tobaccopreventionandcontrol.ncdhhs.gov/shs/preemption.htm

[viii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-597

[ix] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-598


Inside Smoking Regulations in North Carolina