State lawmakers attempted to pass a smoking ban in 2007 but it failed—which should come as no surprise given that North Carolina is tobacco country. The smoking ban was reintroduced by state lawmakers in 2009 and was passed. It took effect in January 2010 and is now enforced in all indoor restaurants and bars across the state and applies to all forms of lit tobacco.
Smokers are still allowed to light up on patios and in parks. The ban has caused an uproar in the Queen City where smoking is not as taboo as it is in other major U.S. cities.
The drinking age is 21 in North Carolina and it is strictly enforced in bars and restaurants, where it’s not uncommon for doormen and servers to ask for ID. Beer and wine are sold at supermarkets and gas stations throughout Charlotte . The sale of hard alcohol is regulated by Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and is sold exclusively through ABC stores, which have limited hours (and are closed on Sundays). In restaurants, alcohol can’t be served before noon. Bars are required to operate as private clubs and have membership requirements.
Offices and banks are open traditional business hours (Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.). When it comes to local shops, there is no such thing as traditional business hours. The opening and closing times are varied and often depend on the neighborhood. Smaller boutiques and shops that are not located in major retail centers often close no later than 6 p.m. Most shops are closed on Sundays.
The operating hours of restaurants are varied, too. Most serve food until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., while a few offer late-night menus until as late as 1 a.m. on weekends. The best choices in late-night dining can be found in Uptown. Elsewhere, after-hours options are limited to pizza and burgers. Without exception, bars close at 2 a.m.
The sales tax rate in Charlotte  is 7.5 percent for dining out and shopping. During the first weekend in August the state participates in a “sales tax holiday” when certain items—clothing with a sales price of under $100, sports and recreational equipment priced at $50 or less per item, school supplies, and computers—are exempt from sales tax. The tax-free weekend was instituted to help families save on back-to-school shopping. The liquor and lodging tax is 8 percent.
In restaurants, it’s common to tip 15 percent on the bill (20 percent for exceptional service). The same tipping rate applies to taxi cabs. Bellhops and valet parking attendants generally get $1–2 per bag or vehicle (a little more at upscale establishments).