Charleston Co. passes 2nd reading of smoking ban ordinance

By Nikki

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)Charleston County inches closer to banning smoking in{} unincorporated areas. On Tuesday, County Council voted unanimously to pass the second reading of its proposed smoking ban.

Vice Chairman Elliott Summey was not in attendance due to prior obligations. However, during the first reading of the ordinance he was the only council member to vote against it. By phone, he told ABC News 4 that he would have likely voted the same way this time around.

"My customers come in here and relax and drink a few drinks, smoke a few cigarettes and enjoy themselves. They work hard enough," said Richard Ruth of Richard's Bar & Grill on Highway 17 North in Mount Pleasant. "They ought to be able to enjoy themselves without government taking a pack of cigarettes out of their pocket."

Ruth says the ordinance would impact him. If passed, it would regulate smoking in public places in order to protect the public from secondhand smoke and that includes banning smoking in the workplace.

"I don't want my bartender or my customers to have smoke in their eyes," he said.

That's why Ruth says he's installed special ceiling fans to circulate the air.

He also started a petition, gathering more than 500 signatures from people opposed to the smoking ban. Yet, despite handing the petition over to council, Ruth didn't get the news he hoped for Tuesday when council approved the smoking ban ordinance. However, others welcomed council's decision.

"If they want to smoke that's their business. But when they do it inside, it affects everyone else around them, and that to me violates my basic freedom to breathe without being harmed," said Allison Tysinger, a local musician.

Tysinger plays in a local band and says she's stopped playing at some bars and restaurants where the smoke is just too much to take.

"You shouldn't have to sacrifice your health in order to make a living," said Tysinger.

To go into effect, the ordinance still must pass a third reading.{} For bar owner, Richard Ruth, he's still hoping council will have a change of heart.

"It's idiotic when the government gets too involved with what we're doing. The government runs everything," he said.

If the ordinance takes effect, a person could be fined anywhere between $10 and $25 if in violation of it.