Legislature Approves 'No Smoking' Bill

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Lawmakers are limiting your opportunities to light up.
Thursday night, Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill outlawing smoking in public places.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel takes a look at both sides of the issue.

While it's an issue dividing the public, lawmakers stood solid: The measure cleared the house 84-to-10, and it then passed the senate 28-to-2.

As far as how it's measuring up with smokers, well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

"A lot of people are starting to like that environment, even smokers. They don't mind going outside. Not everybody," Caroline Johnson from Savelli's Restaurant said.

Like it or not, smokers will need to adjust. Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill banning smoking in most public places, including restaurants.

But that's not a problem at Savelli's in West Knoxville

"I don't think it'll affect us too much maybe it will raise awareness that we are a non-smoking restaurant," Johnson said.

But non-smokers, like Lisa Beeler, believe the bill is bogus, saying most restaurants can easily accommodate both.

"They have areas for smoking. They have areas for non-smoking. So there again you have your opinion on what side you want to go for smoking and non-smoking," Beeler said.

There are, however, several exemptions: Age restricted venues like bars, businesses enclosed by garage doors, if one door is open,
businesses with a separately enclosed, separately ventilated smoking area, nursing homes, open air patios, private clubs, private homes and vehicles, unless they're used for day care, retail tobacco stores, tobacco manufacturing or processing plants, up to 25-percent of rooms in a hotel or motel.

Aubrey's West should fall under the exemptions.

"To me it doesn't matter because you have a choice... it's all open so the air is circulating... to me it doesn't matter on that," Beeler said.

A double whammy for smokers Thursday -- the state senate voted to almost triple Tennessee's cigarette tax to 62-cents per pack which is a 42-cent increase.

The measure goes to the House next.

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