Save NC’s hookahs!

Cullie Tarleton, a state rep in North Carolina, has introduced a bill to save the state’s hookah bars that would be put out of business by the impending smoking ban. Tarleton was a supporter of the original ban, which unfairly exempts cigar bars but makes no allowance for hookahs:

Rep. Cullie Tarleton, D-Watauga, is trying to get the exemption passed in the House. Tarleton was a strong supporter of the original smoking ban, but he said yesterday that the ban’s effect on hookah bars was unintended.

The trouble for Tarleton and supporters of hookah is that getting the exemption passed will require the legislature to revisit one of the most contentious bills of the year. And there’s not much time — depending on what happens with state budget negotiations, the 2009 legislative session could be in its final days.

“I am not interested in opening Pandora’s box here,” Tarleton said yesterday. “All I want to do is to save some 20 small businesses across the state that opened legally, legitimately, with the full intention of serving a population. (The smoking ban) is going to shut them down, and that’s an unintended consequence.”

Who knew that meddling in people’s private decisions would have unintended consequences? Tarleton should have never supported the ban in the first place, but he deserves credit for acknowledging his ignorance and taking steps to fix one of the worst aspects of the law. An amended bill has already passed the House; let’s hope it work it’s way through the rest of the system.

The elitism of exemptions
The death of VA hookah bars


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