People Ban: SC Atlantic Beach

South Carolina Atlantic Beach update…

Atlantic Beach nods to smoking ban
Ordinance would affect workplaces, beach

By Janelle Frost –

Atlantic Beach could become a smoke free town.

The Town Council gave its initial approval Monday night to an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in all workplaces, on the beach and beach walkovers, and within 30 feet of all public buildings. The Bikefest would be exempt. Private residences and rooms designated as “smoking rooms” at hotels and motels would also be exempt. Lodging establishments would not be allowed to have more than 25 percent smoking rooms, according to the ordinance.

If the ordinance passes, anyone who violates it could be given a maximum fine of $100 and court fees.

The ordinance requires a second vote for it to be final. The council voted 3 to 0 on Monday, with Councilman Donnell Thompson absent. The next vote could come at the council’s next meeting on March 7. After the final approval, businesses would be given four weeks to distribute the new policy to workers.

Town Manager William Booker said the ordinance was prompted by the organization Smoke Free Horry – which unveiled a multimedia campaign last month. The organization is looking for support in its drive to educate Horry County residents about the dangers of secondhand smoke and is trying to get all of the county’s municipalities and governments to pass no-smoking ordinances like the one in Surfside Beach.

The organization surveyed the Atlantic Beach council prior to Monday’s meeting to see whether council members would be in favor of a smoking ban in the town, Booker said.

Councilwoman Josephine Isom, who recently had a family member die from lung cancer, said the area needs to “get a handle” on smoking.

“It’s a safe thing to do for our children and everyone,” Isom said of the ban.

Councilwoman Charlene Taylor agreed.? “I think it’s a blessing to go for it,” said Taylor.

George DuRant of Brandon Advertising, which is working with Smoke Free Horry on its campaign, said during Monday’s meeting that “Horry County is one of few counties shown to haven’t done anything to protect people from secondhand smoke.

“We’re asking for the public to protect workers from secondhand smoke and citizens from the danger of secondhand smoke,” DuRant said.

But some area residents think it should be up to the individual businesses to decide whether they want to be smoke free.

“I think the laws are crazy,” said Connie Bridges, a North Myrtle Beach resident. “It’s about ruined North Carolina. You’re being unfair to businesses.”

North Carolina banned smoking in restaurants statewide in 2009.

Larry White, Smoke Free Horry’s program coordinator and also a Conway city councilman, said at Monday’s meeting that some nonsmoking employees might be forced to work in a smoking environment because of the lack of jobs.

White has been involved in smoking cessation programs in Horry County for 10 years as president of The Breathe Coalition, an effort he has said he joined because of a former job as health promotion manager with the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s local office.

“I have a passion for this,” White said. “I’m trying to save someone’s life.”

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