The ‘Nanny State’ of North Carolina

By William R. Toler

My home state was recently the recipient of an award that’s not so honor-worthy. North Carolina was named’s “Nanny State of the Month” for May 2011.

The reason for Reason’s choice: a 1993 ban on rare hamburgers. According to AOL Weird News, the state has prohibited rare and medium rare burgers served in restaurants across the state “thanks to a state restriction that requires restaurants to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.” However, steaks aren’t included in the ban.

“I don’t believe in a nanny state when it comes to food,” said Steven Elliot, a rare burger lover. “I don’t like the government telling us what we can and cannot eat.” Elliot is the founder of, a website that currently lists two restaurants in the Triangle area where you can order a juicy, red hamburger.

According to the article, the ban was put in place after four children died from E. coli in 1993. That puts me in mind of another recent Reason article, “Dead Kids Make Bad Laws.”

Reason’s video also mentioned a ban proposal on teenage tanning in New York. The proposed prohibition would not allow teens to tan even with their parents’ permission. It’s a “noble” effort to reduce the cases of melenoma in young people.

10 other states, according to the Times Union, have similar legislation in the works. One of those…you guessed it: the Tarheel State. One difference in the NC law would reqire anyone under 18 to get a doctor’s note to get bronzed. Oh…and three senators behind the bill…are doctors.

Knowing the risks, what doctor in their right mind would, essentially, write a prescription for UV rays?

A recent editorial in the Shelby Star asks, “Will North Carolina establish a tanning booth police?”

Which is a good question. How does the state intend to enforce such a law? My guess would be to send kids in undercover for a tan sting, much like they do for selling cigarettes to minors.

Here are excerpts from the Star’s editorial:

We’re not suggesting that people under 18 – or anyone else – use tanning booths. There is evidence aplenty to suggest that it’s a bad idea and can increase the risk of a deadly type of cancer called melanoma….The biggest problem with this bill, aside from the conflict of interest, lies in how it furthers the nanny state…This bill will stick government’s nose further into a family’s business…Americans are speaking loudly about their desire for less government in their lives. This bill does just the opposite. The doctors who are sponsoring it need to back off and work toward educating patients and the dangers of using tanning booths. After all, they didn’t go to medical school to become nannies to the young people of North Carolina.

I couldn’t agree more. The responsibility of tanning teens doesn’t belong in the hands of the state, but the parents. This legislation is yet another example of parental rights being diminished.

Apparently North Carolina wants its burgers cooked, not its children.



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0 Responses to The ‘Nanny State’ of North Carolina

  1. Chris

    Great post William. We do have common ground and goals after all! :)

  2. Of course we do…shrink the government and keep it out of everyone’s lives.



    The purpose of government is to keep people from meddling in their own affairs.

  4. Paisley

    Just watch and see what happens when someone tries to serve me a well done hamburger!

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