Spartanburg officials this week moved forward with an effort to ban indoor smoking in places people eat. The city council on Monday passed first reading of a proposal that would end smoking at bars and restaurants. The ordinance still has to be approved at next month’s meeting before it can take effect.
Councilman Jerome Rice voted to approve the ban. He said it was a health issue.
Secondhand smoke was a real deterrent for me. I work in a local school district here, and I work with a lot of young people. During the summertime, they would get a job at some of these restaurants. They’re the victims of secondhand smoke. That really played a key part in my decision.
The ordinance would not allow smoking inside a restaurant, but would permit owners to set up a “designated smoking area” outside of the building. The area would have to be more than 15 feet away from an entrance or exit.
Several restaurant owners say they have concerns, but are not as hostile to the proposal as owners in other South Carolina cities were to similar bans. Several Greenville bars unsuccessfully sued the city to stop a ban in 2006. It took Columbia two years to stop smoking in bars after first banning indoor smoking in 2006.
Steve Wilson owns Papa’s Breakfast Nook in downtown Spartanburg. He estimates about 20 percent of his customers smoke. Wilson said he will move forward no matter what the city does.
I’m just waiting to see how it plays out. Whatever city council decides is fine. I’ll support them. I’ll back the City of Spartanburg and roll with the blows. Whatever the public deems is best for the public.
During a public hearing Monday, some business owners were concerned that smokers might start to eat outside of the city limits where the law has no affect. Wilson said he doesn’t think his diner will have that problem.
I don’t think it’ll affect me one bit. I get local clientele (who) have been coming to me for 23 years. I don’t think they’re going to go somewhere else… Most people are in and out in 15 to 20 minutes. Most people can do without a cigarette for 15, 20 minutes.
Ryan Traywick, who runs Main Street Pub, also says he is not opposed to the idea behind the law. However, he worried the wording was not clear about where smokers could light up. He told the council he had an outdoor deck that could serve as the “designated smoking area,” but wasn’t sure if customers could still eat on the deck.
While the proposal banned smoking at restaurants and bars, Councilman Rice added an amendment that took it a step further– banning smoking completely at all city-sponsored events. Originally, smoking would have been allowed in certain areas of a festival, but Rice said that sent the wrong message.
If the city’s going to spearhead this and be a leader in it, I don’t think the city should have a city-sponsored event where we would designate a smoking area… That really didn’t sit well with me.
Rice said he was concerned about the same effects of secondhand smoke on children at festivals. The council agreed to include the language.
If approved at the council’smeeting next month, the ordinance would go into effect in September. Fines on owners and customers would range from $25 to $100.
The law would exempt cigar bars that generate a majority of their sales from tobacco products.