Legislature approves NC smoking ban

RALEIGH, NC (AP) - Legislators in the country's top tobacco-growing state have approved a smoking ban for restaurants and bars across North Carolina.

Governor Beverly Perdue has 10 days to sign the bill into law or veto it before it would become law without her signature.

"Today is an important and historic day for North Carolina - a day to applaud Rep. Hugh Holliman and Sen. William Purcell for protecting the health of North Carolinians," Perdue said in a statement. "I have vigorously supported efforts to reduce and eliminate smoking and this bill will help more North Carolina citizens avoid the dangers of secondhand smoke."

The state House voted 62-56 on Wednesday to approve changes adopted in the state Senate.

More than 30 states have already passed similar restrictions.

The legislation was backed by health advocates and opposed by lawmakers from areas were tobacco-growing and cigarette factories are big employers.

Opponents including Republican Rep. David Lewis of rural Harnett County complained the ban took away the opportunity for restaurant and bar owners to decide how to run their businesses.