North Myrtle Beach to take first vote on smoking ban later this month
Jan. 09, 2012
By Janelle Frost
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH| — People might not be able to distinguish an e-cigarette from a real cigarette in certain situations, which is why the city council has decided to include e-cigarettes in its non-smoking ordinance.
The city council expects to take its first vote on the proposed ordinance later this month.
When city council members made changes to the proposed non-smoking ordinance in December, those changes included not applying the ordinance to e-cigarettes.
City Manager Mike Mahaney said Monday that city staff encourages the council not to include e-cigarettes because he doesn’t want to put law enforcement in a position of trying to determine whether it is an e-cigarette.
But some city council members said it would create a problem if the ordinance doesn’t address it.
“There’s a psychological impact of it,” City Councilman Bob Cavanaugh said. “For example, if you’re in a theater and look around and see 10 people with it, it looks like they are smoking. There’s an influence on other people, especially at night when an e-cigarette looks like a cigarette.”
City Councilman Hank Thomas agreed and Councilman Greg Duckworth shared similar thoughts.
“I can see in low lighting situations where law enforcement is covering an event, you may not be able to tell from a distance,” Duckworth said.
Mayor Marilyn Hatley thinks it would be hard to enforce and would require more education about e-cigarettes.
“You can smell a cigarette, but you can’t smell an e-cigarette,” Councilman Terry White said.
The city’s proposed ordinance titled “Smoking in Public Places” will get a vote on Jan.23. The ordinance is similar to ones adopted by Surfside Beach and Greenville.
The council held its second workshop Monday afternoon to discuss the ordinance, which includes prohibiting smoking in public transportation vehicles, such as taxicabs and buses; in hotel and motel common areas, and at ballparks, athletic fields and other sporting/athletic venues when in use for athletic competitions or public performances. Smoking will be allowed in parks only in designated areas.
The ordinance does not apply to retail tobacco stores, which includes existing cigar bars; campground spaces, hotel and motel rooms, or structures owned or rented as time shares.
Cavanaugh said Monday that the council has done an “outstanding” job with the ordinance, but he would like to see whether businesses would make that choice to go smoke free on their own instead of there being a government mandate.
“I think that a vast majority of them would make the decision to be smoke free on their own,” he said. “I feel uncomfortable doing a mandate on a social issue. I think there should be a mandate to have a sign that says smoking or non-smoking. For one year, let’s try it. If it doesn’t work, we can put in all mandates.”
White said he thinks businesses want the government to make that decision for them instead of possibly upsetting customers if they make the choice to go smoke free.
Wanda Yow, secretary of the Shaggers Hall of Fame, agreed. She said 14 out of every 15 shaggers polled, who also visit the city’s shag clubs, want a non-smoking ordinance.
According to a survey conducted by the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, 73 percent of local businesses support a smoking ban inside, Duckworth said.
SC – North Myrtle Beach
NMB inches closer to smoke free ordinance
Dec 19, 2011
By Jesse Grainger
The city of North Myrtle Beach moves one step closer to adopting a smoke free ordinance. Smoke Free North Myrtle Beach presented an ordinance that was discussed for nearly two hours during a workshop session Monday afternoon by the North Myrtle Beach City Council.
Smoke Free North Myrtle Beach, a subsidiary of Smoke Free Horry, states in the introduction of the proposed ordinance that “secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 53,000 Americans prematurely each year.” The group goes on to assert that “the health consequences of involuntary smoking have been reported by the U.S. Surgeon General to be a cause of disease, including lung cancer, in healthy non-smokers.”
Smoke Free Horry, through localized subsidiaries such as Smoke Free North Myrtle Beach, is attempting to convince all municipalities in the county to adopt smoke free ordinances. The group is pursuing such legislation in the name of workers’ rights.
“Workplaces have been shown to be locations of significant exposure to secondhand smoke by employees working in the City of North Myrtle Beach,” the proposed ordinance reads. “There are laws, ordinances and regulations in place that protect workers from other environmental hazards including Class A carcinogens, asbestos, arsenic and benzene, but none which regulate exposure to secondhand smoke.”
City council discussed making an array of changes to the proposed ordinance, which would, more generally, prohibit smoking in enclosed public places, city-owned facilities and places of employment.
Council felt that the ordinance should not include prohibition of smoking in work vehicles, but should only be extended to public transportation such as buses or taxis. Council also felt that the ordinance should not prohibit smoking in individual hotel rooms, but only in hotel and motel common areas.
Council also felt that the distance requirements associated with the ordinance would be impossible to police. The ordinance calls for smoking to be permitted “at a minimum distance of 25 feet away from outside entrances, operable windows and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited.” As a result, the distance requirement was scrapped.
The prohibition ordinance covers the usage of e-cigarettes and extends to retail tobacco stores, which often have adjoining smoking bars. Council felt that the ordinance should not apply in these instances.
Furthermore, the ordinance defines “enclosed areas” as “all space between a floor and a ceiling that is bounded on at least two sides by walls, doorways or windows, whether opened or closed.” Council felt this definition was too restrictive and would hurt area restaurants that offer smoking areas outside, some of which could still be defined as having two walls. Council decided that an enclosed space should be defined as having four walls.
“I’m not going to vote for anything that puts anyone out of business,” North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley stated Monday. “I just won’t do it.”
Council seemed to take a balanced approach to the matter by attempting to appease passionate ordinance advocates, while still considering the economic effects of such a measure.
“We have to be careful,” Hatley stated during the discussion. “Where does an ordinance like this start and where does it stop?”
Councilman Hank Thomas, an advocate for a smoking ban in North Myrtle Beach, replied by stating that the proposed ordinance was merely a “basic outline” to begin ironing out something more reasonable.
Hatley went on to question, “When do people begin taking responsibility for their own businesses?”
“A lot of people don’t want the government telling them ‘no,’” Councilman Terry White added.
Supporters insist that such an ordinance is vital to the health of workers throughout North Myrtle Beach. Opponents find that it’s not the government’s place to make decisions that should be left to private businesses to determine.
George DuRant, a spokesman for Smoke Free Horry, stated, “It’s appropriate for the city to protect its citizens. We don’t want North Myrtle Beach to be the ashtray of the east coast.”
“I don’t think it’s your job to tell independent businesses to go smoke free,” Jeff Vallancey, the owner of Rockefellers Raw Bar, addressed council. “I’m tired of government telling me what to do.” Vallancey asserted that he decided to go smoke free at his business independently, not because of a government mandate.
Kim Talbert, owner of Big KT’s BBQ, joined the dissenting voices by adding, “Car exhaust will hurt you. Fried food can even kill you. You can’t legislate everything.”
Supporters of the ordinance maintained that workers operating in areas where smoking is not prohibited can lead to detrimental health problems.
At the conclusion of the meeting, council decided to hold another workshop on the matter in the near future before bringing the ordinance up for an official vote.