No Smoking in Downtown Raleigh?

I still have not been able to come up with a concrete opinion on the subject. I do not smoke and with my friends, some do and others do not. My tolerance to it is much higher then most people so I generally do not mind being in a restaurant or a bar that allows smoking inside. I do prefer a non-smoking place over the other but only in a few instances has that been a determining factor in my activities. Everyone has a different opinion here and comes from different lifestyles so I believe no one is truly right. Here is some coverage of the proposed smoking ban in the state for those not following it.

N&O: Smoking ban passes second reading

WRAL: N.C. House passes public smoking ban

– ABC11: Price of cigarettes goes up

Rather then discuss the new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, because that won’t get us anywhere, let’s focus on downtown Raleigh and how the ban may affect the area. If all bars went non-smoking, it is tough to tell how people would change, if at all, their regular drinking and eating spots. My group of friends have a pretty set pattern of bars we go to and I think that pattern will remain no matter what. Others may go to a bar more often if it was forced to be smoke free, changing their usual lineup of watering holes. It varies on people and groups of friends. With that said, the largest impact of the no smoking ban would be on tourists to downtown Raleigh. (and props to Chris for giving me this blog post idea)

While the local population will quickly adjust and think nothing of it in no time, visitors have the highest potential of recognizing this change and thinking positively of downtown Raleigh. I have nothing against people smoking but if you look at the following two scenarios, most of us will agree on the general result. I’ll focus on bars since this is the most likely place to find smoking going on; restaurants usually do a good job of offering seperate sections.

Situation: A group of 100 people visit downtown on a weekend and are staying in downtown hotels, 50 are smokers and 50 are non-smokers.

I Current scenario: Decision is up to the business owner.

Right now, downtown Raleigh has more bars that allow smoking then prohibit it. Our 100 visitors decide to venture out and see what downtown has to offer. In my opinion, I think that smokers will be mildly inconvenienced. The very few places that do not allow it do have access to the outdoors, whether it is their own patio or outside the front door on the sidewalk. For the non-smokers, it will all depend on how well they tolerate it (and I know some places are worse then others) but most bars in downtown Raleigh will inconvenience this visiting crowd. If they have to step outside for fresh air, that means they have to leave the place they chose to visit, possibly upsetting that visitor. Also, people usually seek out non-smoking places and since downtown Raleigh offers only a handful of options, it may not look good to most of the non-smoking crowd.


Smokers – mostly happy, above average impression of DT Raleigh.

Non-smokers – average, DT Raleigh is ok.

II Possible future: Zero smoking allowed in all bars.

Now that all bars are smoke free, we can talk about how the same 100 visitors may act. With no option at all, smokers have to make use of outdoor areas, which is shared by everyone, and for the most part, less bothersome then lighting up indoors. Since this is the same way everywhere, I think that those who choose to smoke will accept it. The non-smoking crowd has one less thing to worry about and smoke will never negatively impact their opinion of downtown Raleigh.


Smokers – Mostly happy, above average impression of DT Raleigh.

Non-smokers – mostly happy, above average impression of DT Raleigh.

There is no science to this little scenario I just blabbed on about but please comment if you feel differently. I am not saying smoking is the only factor that affects downtown’s impression but if it was a non-issue, then that would be the way to go. Anyway, the simple point I’m trying to make is that if there was consistency across the board, everyone would adjust fine rather then cope with an inconvenience and possibly carry a negative opinion about our area. Here is a Wikipedia entry with a map showing states and their current smoking bans. There are lots of states with some level of restriction of smoking in restaurants and bars. The non-smoking crowd is much more likely to think negatively of downtown bars if they come from a state that bans it. I do not know the answer to this but would a smoker from these same states like downtown Raleigh more if he or she found out they could smoke indoors? These days, I’d bet the answer is no in most cases.

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  1. Excellent! Get rid of these disgusting smokers.

    Went to Fox and Hound at North Hills, will Never go there again (chain smokers everywhere, I went home and threw my clothes in the garbage.

  2. Andy, what’s the big inconvenience about stepping outside to have a cigarette? What’s ridiculous about being courteous to everyone around you and not making them breathe your second hand smoke, smell like garbage, and develop lung cancer?

    Now hit me up with that awesome “LET’S BAN DRINKING AND EATING FATTY FOODS WHILE WE’RE AT IT” routine.

  3. ^ While you’re at it, why not let owners decide whether they follow health regulations like washing their hands after visiting the restrooms and starting to prepare your food? Let the market decide! It’s not the government’s business if everyone gets hepatitis! Who needs those pesky sanitation grades? Viva capitalism!

    Give me a freakin’ break. Public health IS the government’s business. Remember that next time you hear about a possible salmonella outbreak at the grocery store.

    Leo: great analysis!
    However I think the latest version that just passed the state house has an unfortunate exemption for non-restaurant bars that have a 18+ age requirement. So who knows how this will all go down in the end.

  4. I am not a smoker, and I strongly prefer smoke-free areas, but I don’t think I have the right to limit all those people who do smoke by taking away their options. Today it is smoking, tomorrow we will not even be able to f*rt within 50 miles from an urbanized area. I am sure there are a lot of things the government can focus on before they “attack” the smokers.

  5. smoking and drinking go hand in hand. I don’t understand why this is a concern of the government. if I want to allow people to smoke in my bar, that is my business. don’t like smoke? go somewhere else.

    I think you’re wrong. it is not a minor inconvenience. it’s a big one and ridiculous.

  6. RaleighRob, I did notice that but I chose to compare current conditions and an all out ban. Who knows what will eventually happen.

  7. You’ve forgotten about the visitors who actually value liberty and property rights. To them, Raleigh will seem unnecessarily regulated, and a bad place to open a business. A smoking ban sends a signal to potential business-owners that government exercises a lot of power over business decisions.

    For example, every time I visit DC, I observe that the bars there smell suspiciously like government intervention, which is a far more fetid odor than that of smoke.

  8. If you don’t like second hand smoke, why do you go to bars?

    You don’t smoke so you don’t understand how the two go together.

    Has anyone devloped lung cancer from 2nd hand smoke?

    The more important point is this: why not let bar owners decide? it’s not the government’s business. let customers make decisions. if enough people stay home, owners will have to ban smoking. it’s capitalism.

  9. Andy, you still haven’t explained the big inconvenience to me, or why the law is ridiculous.

    Tell me why you see stepping outside for a cigarette every now and then as more inconvenient than sitting next to some dirty smoker blowing smoke in your face all night, then going home and smelling like garbage.

  10. A smoking ban clearly infringes on the property rights of the business owner.

    I don’t smoke. I don’t like being around smokers. I tend to shy away from smoky places. That’s my choice.

    A business owner should have the choice to allow smoking. People who don’t like it can stay away and the business owner can lose my potential patronage.

    As an employee, I can choose not to work in a smoky environment (and so I have).

    Frankly, I resent the nanny state and value individual rights for me and everyone else.

  11. No smoking in restaurants gives the patrons the following. 1. Clothes that do not smell like an ashtray
    2. ashtrays or ashes on the tables.
    and #3. You can actually taste the food you are paying alot of money for.
    I don’t go to several restaurants that allow smoking for all of the above reasons, likewise I walk of restaurants that have a strong odor as you enter the door. I have no problem with bars being smoke-abled, but they limit their patrons by not separating the smoking from the food.

  12. IF anyone has been up to NYC since the ban will notice a few things. People smoke outside on the sidewalk. So people will still be affected by walking through it.

    Also it causes the city to be extremly dirty with massive amounts of butts on the curbs and whatnot.

    There is no perfect solution, And the State should do an All out ban or nothing at all. Special exemptions cause a competitive disadvantage.

  13. I think smoking is disgusting and should definitely be banned in all public venues. But for private establishments, the decision has to be left up to the owner.

    The comparison to the sanitation grade is not valid. I can’t determine exactly how sanitary a restaurant is by walking through the front door. I can, however, determine if smoking is allowed inside.

    As for the butts on the sidewalk argument ^. Allowing smoking inside is not going to make a difference there. Smokers obviously don’t give a sh** about their health, so why would they care about littering.

  14. Brian- smokers litter their butts everywhere already. This won’t change a thing. Even the grounds of my apartment has them all over, even though there are six outdoor receptacles for them! If they’re too lazy & trashy to use the ashtray at their own freakin’ home, there’s no hope for them, period.

    Jeff- it is valid to compare various ways government regulates businesses to protect health. Whether it is keeping the chef from sneezing in your food and handing you bread with a hand he just used to wipe his butt, to construction companies providing their workers with hardhats. Or requiring doctors to use a clean needle before they give you that vaccine. If it was up to the “let the private business owner decide not government” anarchists, none of these would be in place. Letting the market regulate itself is what gave us this financial mess we’re currently in. God help us if that was the way public health issues were handled, too.

  15. I’d like to preface my comment by saying I’ve NEVER smoked and I think it is a really disgusting habit that obviously affects the people around the smoker. I also have a lot of smoker friends that know this, I choose to hang out with (some of) them, despite this.

    That being said, this is a slippery slope we’re on. How in the hell does the gov’t think it has the right to tell someone who legally owns or rents a private property what they can and cannot do inside that space?? Now, this is one in a long line of socialist legislation that has been taking over the country (and it ain’t stopping anytime soon with a self-proclaimed Marxist in the White House) – but I guess I will choose my battles. This is one I’m not going to fight – I’ll choose my battles. In principle i’m 100% against; but in practice, I’ll take it and save my energy for more important fights.

  16. Perhaps the government shouldn’t have stepped in back in the 60s when private establishments were segregated eh? Just let the owners decide whether or not to allow African Americans in their establishments?

  17. I don’t see how option #2 will make smokers “mostly happy”. Smoking outside is enjoyable only when the weather is pretty mild. If it gets too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet, it becomes a miserable experience.

    The government really shouldn’t be telling proprietors how to handle this. The customers should be giving feedback to proprietors and let them make their own choices.

  18. @L Boyd – I agree with you that the alleged president is a Marxist but this anti-smoking legislation is technically more fascist. Marxism involves direct state control of industry. Fascism preserves the veneer of a free market while crushing it under excessive regulation behind the scenes.

    For awhile I thought we were on a highway to socialism in this country. I see now that we’re really moving towards fascism, and the new president has embraced this path as readily as his predecessor.

    The really sick thing is, there is a vocal minority of people (anti-smokers in this specific example) who are demanding rule by fascism.

    It bothers the hell out of me that both of my grandfathers and several uncles put their lives on the line to fight fascism overseas. Now we have it right here at home.

  19. Do some people think that the government is really interested in our health? Are they for real? This is about a government that wants to hurt the tobacco industry and exercise control, plain and simple. We, as individuals, lost the sense of personal responsibility and moved to the VERY dangerous territory of being taken care of by the most inefficient force: the government. If you don’t want second-hand smoke, don’t go to those places. How hard is it?

    Anyway, as much as I despise smoking, I can’t overlook the fact that smokers are human beings and they deserve a better treatment. Paying higher insurance premiums and higher cigarette taxes is one. Being told you can’t smoke while you spend your money and help the economy is simply absurd. Now, banning smoking from places where non-smokers have no choice, but to breathe smoke, is fine with me. Municipal buildings and airports are among these areas, although the latter should have some designated rooms for smoking.

    Here is a business idea: Open a private smoking club, where members can enjoy food and drinks without being harassed… That will help you make money :LOL:

  20. Second-hand smoke isn’t just annoying. It causes health problems, so it isn’t arbitrary “Nazi-istic” regulation. It’s based on health concerns – like helmet laws.

    I find this thread a little amusing, since I have spent time living in two places that already implemented smoking bans. In Bloomington, Indiana, there was a big debate like this one, and then the smoking ban began. THEN places started looking for loopholes. Annoying!

    In Boston, where it is often not nice outside, people are just used to going outside to smoke. It’s just how things are.

    Smoking bans make public places healthier for people who have decided not to invite health risks into their lives. I think that’s a good thing. If one gets passed here, people will complain a lot for a while, but they will adjust eventually. That’s how it always goes.

    Even if I were still smoking, I don’t think I could argue against smoking bans with a straight face.

  21. Helmet laws are awful, too. Thanks for proving my point.

    The smoking nazis should just take their dollars elsewhere. Clearly there is a market for this.

  22. From an article in USA Today: Health officials estimate secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 cases of lung cancer in American non-smokers each year.

    I can understand the argument for allowing a business owner to decide. As a non-smoker, sure, I could try to avoid smoky areas. But as a young person in Raleigh who wants to go out to bars? Forget it. I go, because I want to see my friends and have a few beers. I shouldn’t have to risk my health to do so. I agree with Ernest – someone should open a private smoking club. :o)

    I did a little reading and most cities that have enacted these bans don’t see a huge economic impact. Some restaurant-bar owners tell newspapers anecdotally that they notice a drop in sales, but I found very few figures to that effect. According to a published, scholarly study done by economics professors “The vast majority of scientific evidence indicates that there is no negative economic impact of clean indoor air policies, with many studies finding that there may be some positive effects on local businesses.” Here is a link to that study:

  23. I don’t think comparing the smoking ban to civil rights issues is valid at all. Don’t get me wrong–I would love it if most establishments would voluntarily go smoke-free but generally civil rights trump the rights of individual businesses. It’s apples to oranges.

    I agree with Ernest that municipal places (like airports and state property) are good places for smoking bans. NC State already bans smoking within twenty feet of a building and is moving toward a smoke-free campus and that’s fine. It’s state property. But if the Cup a Joe down Hillsborough Street wants to have a smoking section that’s their business–and I don’t have to give them mine.

    I think it’s hard to argue that smoke-free establishments aren’t a good thing. I think they’re great as we’re moving away from smoking tobacco as a culture. But I think the larger issue is that it is a slippery slope to further infringing on the rights of businesses. Where’s the personal liberty in an involuntary smoking ban?

  24. I think the libertarian argument is a weak one. If the government didn’t already regulate businesses or individuals in the name health, safety, decency, or public order, it may be more convincing, but they do. Alcohol cannot be served to minors; not wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle is a ticketable offense; motorcyclists are required to wear helmets; restaurants that serve ground meat must cook that meat to certain temperature unless the meat was ground on the premises; you cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded place. The libertarian response is, “Yeah, and that sucks! Those regulations shouldn’t exist,” which is cute and all, but they do, and until there’s a significant change in our government, let’s put that argument to rest. It’s not that I agree or disagree, it’s just that it’s not worthwhile to base one’s argument on a largely theoretical scenario in which the government isn’t already heavily regulating the actions of people in public places.

    The other argument—that of lost business—is a slightly more convincing one, though I think the fears that underly it are ultimately unfounded. The ban affects all restaurants and bars (excluding special exceptions); a business won’t lose customers to a competitor because the competitor is equally affected by the ban. What about smokers who would simply stay home instead of going out? They definitely exist, but doesn’t it make sense that there are some non-smokers who stay home to avoid the smoke? Wouldn’t those non-smokers go out more once the ban was in place? Assuming that the percentage of smokers who would stay at home after the ban is the equal to the percentage of non-smokers who would come out after it, business should actually increase, as non-smokers outnumber smokers 3-to-1 in the US.

    In any case, I’m in favor of the ban. I honestly don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact on anything. I don’t think it’s going to adversely affect the vast majority of businesses, and I don’t think it sets any new legislative precedents. The one thing it will affect is my clothes… I won’t have to deal with the fetid stench of cigarettes every time I leave my favorite bar.

  25. This is not a public health issue, this is an issue of smell, plain and simple. There is nothing in tobacco smoke that is not in wood smoke, and no one is proposing that North Carolina ban their BBQ joints, or prohibit minors from entering places that cook over wood fires. Nor is anyone proposing that they ban camping, or charge the boy scouts with child abuse for allowing children near the smoke of a campfire which is thousands of times more polluting than cigarette smoke. No one has ever died of secondhand smoke, and the countries with the highest incidence of smoking, like Japan, France and Greece all have longer life spans than the average American. The theory that second hand smoke is dangerous is baloney, which should be obvious to any sane person who cn think for themselves.

    So basically the issue is the smell and the idea of public space. Contrary to what many people evidently think, a restaraunt or bar is not a public space. The air inside a building does not belong to you, but belongs specifically to the owner. Ownership is the exclusive right of control of a thing. Property owners do not just own the land, and the building they own everything inside including the air, thereforth they have the right to control the air in anyway they choose, so long as they do not violate the rights of another person. Since no person other than the owner has any right to the air space inside his property, the government has no business telling him what he can do inside his own joint, so long as it is not against the law.

  26. Johnnyb, it “should be obvious to any sane person who cn think for themselves” that the longer life spans in Japan, France, and Greece are attributable to DIET and lifestyle.
    Also, the tobacco they smoke isn’t laced with as many chemicals as American tobacco.

    Plain and simple, it is in all of our best interest to have a government that regulates what chemicals corporations can force into our bodies, be it in the form of a Big Mac because there isn’t another restaurant within 10 miles of this rest-stop, or second-hand smoke that I’m forced to breathe when going to see my favorite band play.

    This big-government argument is just an invention because the defenders of public smoking have nothing else. Notice also that I said “defenders of public smoking”, not “smokers”. This is a key point in the whole debate: pro-smoking-ban people would do well to focus on the effects of smoking and the tobacco industry, not the smokers themselves.

    Another thing us free-thinkers should be thinking about is how unregulated corporations become more powerful than government. If not for our hybrid government system utilizing some of the better aspects of socialism, you’d be visiting your bar at Glenwood Ave, Rockefellerville, Vanderbiltstate…with the 5 minute break you have from work at the iron forge, then going to bed in your cell in the factory with the rest of your 3-limbed family who all lost arms in the machinery. Also your libertarian wife is far uglier and smellier because all she eats is tainted meat with growth harmones, which give your 6 foot tall 10yr old boy manboobs. But hey, you can smoke in that goddamned bar all you want, buddy.

  27. I just want to reiterate JohnnyB’s point that what happens in a private establishment is just that.

    It’s unfortunate that you’re favorite band is playing in a smoky bar but no one is forcing you to go.

    I do think second-hand smoke is gross so I avoid smoky places. Simple as that. If it cuts in on my fun, tough luck. Same goes if I were a smoker and chose to avoid non-smoking places. I don’t feel entitled to special accomodations for this on either side. It should be up to the businesses.

  28. EarlP,

    You are a fascist. This entire issue about cigarette smoke is about the smell, because the smell of cigarettes alerts everyone in the area that they are being exposed to the chemicals in cigarette smoke. People are free to either leave the area, or take their own chances.

    If cigarette smoking is so dangerous that even a whiff can kill you, then smoking should be banned outright, but this danger would be quite new as exampled by the French, Japanese, and Greeks who are heavy smokers but have very long life expectancy contrary to what secondhand smoke theory would have predicted. Smoke from charcoal is demonstrably dangerous, as the people dependent on wood for their cooking and heating needs have much shorter life spans than people who live in developed countries and use safer methods of cooking their food. By the same logic, and with more evidence that danger exists, BBQ should be outlawed, as should camp fires because these sources produce far more smoke and harmful chemicals than cigarettes, and the chemical composition of wood smoke is nearly identical to tobacco smoke, but is produced in far greater quantities. Anytime you burn a carbon source, you are going to end up with the same chemicals, so if we are going to ban smoking as being a health hazard due to second hand smoke, then we also must ban the use of natural gas, gasoline, diesel, heating oil and coal.

    There is of course a much better way to handle all of this, rather than repressing the property rights of business owners, or individual liberty. Simply, require business owners who wish to allow smoking purchase a license to make their businesses smoking establishments, and write a code mandating certain air ventilation standards, and require them to display a sign marking their business as a smoking establishment. That way people know the risks before they ever enter the establishment, or accept employment by the same.

    Everyone gets what they want. Smokers get a safe warm place where they can enjoy their smokes. Non-smokers get smoke free venues, and the city get more money by requiring businesses to buy a special permit.

    See how much better Freedom is than Fascism?

  29. Nice Johnnyb, nice. You should check your definition of fascist.
    Also, since you’re promoting the bullying mentality of “if you don’t like it, go some place else”, a.) what gives you the right to take ownership of 20m of space just because you have a cigarette? Some freedom you’re promoting. b.)by that logic, I can go stand in any public place and make any kind of noise I want, as long as it’s below the threshold of causing hearing damage. If you dont like it, dont stand next to me. you’ll still hear it across the room and won’t be able to have a conversation, but i’ve got rights, no? Maybe I could park my car in front of your window and let the horn sound indefinitely. It would be fascist to try and regulate such things, apparently. I mean if I want my car horn to be 250db, the government shouldnt be able to regulate Ford’s rights to put a 250db car horn in, even if it would ruin the hearing of anyone nearby and cause countless wrecks in the street. Let the market decide.
    The BBQ vs smoking argument won’t stick. There are already regulations and specifications for how cooking-related exhaust is handled in restaurants. If you want to regulate the chemicals in cooking charcoals, I’m all for it.
    I could get on board with having private establishments pay hefty fees that go towards healthcare when they allow smoke. In New York, there are speciality smoking bars, which serve real tobacco, not the chemical laced variety found in corporate-made cigarettes. The smoking ban hasn’t hurt business, and it certainly makes it easier for people to quit smoking. Any smokers care to post the stats on the percentage of smokers who want to quit but can’t?

  30. I wish the anti-smokers would stop farting in public. I have the right to breath in clean fart-free air. I can’t go anywhere without having to breath in your tofu & latte farts.

  31. EarlP,

    I do not have the “right” to just light up anywhere I please. I certainly do not have the right to light up on someone’s private property without their permission, that would be trespasssing. At the same time, neither you, a majority of voters or the government have the right to tell private business owners that they may not allow smoking on their own private property. I do not have the right to smoke on someone else’s private property, but at the owner’s discretion I might be permitted to smoke.

    The public does have the right to prohibit smoking in the public sphere, but it seems to me that smokers pay more than their fair share in taxes through th combination of federal, state, and money from the tobacco settlements. Smokers do not wish to be intentionally rude, and would gladly use smoking areas set aside for them, after all they are tax paying members of the public and by paying the tax on tobacco, they are purchasing the right to enjoy that tobacco.

    Smokers and non-smokers have gotten along fine for a very long time until a few zealots decided that the best course of action was to behave in a hostile manner towards smokers and press for laws that undermine common decency and hospitality. Simply giving smokers a place to smoke, financed with the money that they already pay in taxes would cost the general public nothing, and solve all the problems of second hand smoke exposure. But the non-smokers decided that they needed to stamp out smoking as a cultural norm, so they are promoting these progressive regulations and taxes which unfairly penalize smokers because fascists do not like the smokers. In many ways, this is much worse than segregation of the Non-whites, because at least non-whites were accomidated, while smokers are simultaneously being outlawed all together.

    Using the powers of government to change the culture and repress individual liberty and private property rights is fascism. Hitler went after the smokers too.

  32. Well the real question is what is considered private. Any average bar or restaurant is already subject to all sorts of regulation, for our own good. They are open to the public for business, this makes them subject to regulation. But suppose they have a membership only policy. Then I think they should be left alone and allow all the smoke they want. It works in NYC, it can work in Raleigh.
    Do you think restaurants should be allowed to serve food containing salmonella? Second-hand smoke has been proven to cause all sorts of health problems. American manufactured tobacco has all sorts of chemical additives, which have health effects beyond cancer alone. Thus, it is necessary to keep it out of enclosed public spaces in order to avoid infringing upon the rights of others. Health comes before personal comfort in this case.
    Magnus, wtf are you talking about? I appreciate some comic relief just like anyone else, but where do tofu and latte come into this? I don’t like tofu. I don’t drink latte. This conversation is a little above your head if you are perpetuating GOP stereotypes of anyone debating you being somehow weak, gay, french, vegetarian, communist, whathaveyou. And that somehow all of these are inter-related. Sorry, they don’t go hand-in-hand like republicans/racism/corporate greed/uneducated hate. This clearly comes from a place of personal insecurity. I eat meat. I *ucking love a steak like I love *itties. As a former linebacker, I can tell you personally that you have no idea what you’re saying. That said, if farting were preventable, I’d be all for it. Alas, farts are not truly hazardous to anyone’s health. Cigarettes are, thus their use in public can be regulated.
    By the way, none of the smoke supporters answered if sound pollution, or street pollution for that matter, should be regulated. Do I have your permission to blast my car horn outside your window indefinitely? Hey if you don’t like it, you can pay to soundproof your house.

  33. EarlP I guess that was supposed to be a direct attack on my political affiliation but you got it wrong. So as the saying goes, you’ve been hoisted by your own petard.

    Thou dost protest too much. I prescribe beano.

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