Charleston passes 1st reading of new smoking ban ordinance

By Nikki

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)Lighting up in downtown Charleston could get a little harder for smokers.

On Tuesday, Charleston City Council passed first reading of an ordinance that would ban smoking on certain sidewalks and streets near hospitals. The ordinance specifically applies to MUSC and Roper St. Francis.

If it passes, those who violate it could be fined up to $25.

"We're not trying to make it hard on smokers, we're trying to just provide them with opportunities to quit smoking, to have alternatives, or if they want to smoke just go a little further away," said Ray Greenberg, president of MUSC.

The ordinance aims to reduce second-hand smoke. However, not everyone supports its goal.

"It's one thing to be up under the facility or somebody's ground, but our taxes pay for the sidewalks, and I think if we want to smoke that's our right," said smoker, Larry Edens.

Others, like Jennifer Mayser, hopes the ordinance passes for a different reason.

"I actually think it's a good idea. I don't like standing in downtown Charleston, waiting for the bus and looking at other people's trash on the ground. Some smokers throw the butts on the ground and it's littering," said Jennifer Mayser.

Along with Charleston Police, public safety for MUSC would also help to enforce the ordinance if it passes.

The ordinance will go through a second reading in January.