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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

SmokeFreeNC: The Law: An Act To Prohibit Smoking in Certain Public Places and Certain Places of Employment

North Carolina’s Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law was passed by the N.C. General Assembly and signed by the Governor in May, 2009, with an effective date of January 2, 2010.

The law requires enclosed areas of almost all restaurants and bars to be smoke-free effective January 2, 2010. Smoking is also banned in enclosed areas of hotels, motels, and inns, if food and drink are prepared there.

Smoking is permitted in: twenty percent (20%) of guest rooms in lodging establishments; cigar bars that meet specific requirements; private clubs - country clubs or organizations with selected membership - which are operated by the membership, have non-profit status, and provide restricted food and lodging services; establishments that are exempt from the state's sanitation laws.   

If you observe or note a possible violation, please notify the owner or manager of the establishment. They are responsible for compliance and are required to direct a person who is smoking to extinguish the lighted tobacco product.

Since this law went into effect on January 2, 2010, if you encounter a violation you can now file a complaint online or by telephone.

Contact information for health departments can be found on the web site for the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors. Ultimately, businesses that are not following the smoke-free law may be issued warnings and/or fines for violating the law more than two times.

SmokefreeNC Information






Updated: February 26, 2020