Workplace Smoking Ban Measure Passes Tobacco-Friendly House Panel

Nashville (AP) -- The Tennessee House Agriculture Committee passed a proposed ban on most workplace smoking, including in restaurants Wednesday morning.

The committee is traditionally friendly to tobacco interests.

The version adopted by the panel includes several exemptions left out of the version that the Senate passed last week. The exceptions would allow smoking in bars, private clubs and businesses with up to three employees.

Former tobacco farmer Stratton Bone of Lebanon is chairman of the committee. He acknowledged the bill isn't perfect, but is a compromise to move the measure forward.

The Democrat says a lot of people don't think, as he put it, "government should be involved in everything we do," but says the committee felt a stand was needed on the issue.

The Senate bill was amended last week to closely mirror a proposal from Governor Phil Bredesen to ban smoking in nearly all enclosed public places. Limited exceptions would include nursing homes, tobacco stores and hotels.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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