Goose Creek smoking ban passes; takes effect July 1

By Eric

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCIV) -- Another Lowcountry city council put a stop to smoking in public places.{}Goose Creek council members approved a city-wide smoking ban Tuesday night.

The ban will take effect July 1.

Before Tuesday night's vote, North Charleston and Goose Creek were the only cities in the state where people were allowed to light up in public places. Now North Charleston stands alone.

The more bans that go into effect, the bigger the issue becomes for businesses that are not smoke free.

Charlene Szews has owned and run Sapphire's Bar and Grill in Goose Creek for the last seven years. Szews said a big part of her customer base comes because they can smoke.

"We aren't even being given a choice about this, this is being passed by the council members," Szews said.

The council voted for it during an initial reading last month. The ordinance focuses on places of employment to protect the health of workers.

Szews said she would like her bar to be an exception because she spent $10,000 on a ventilation system to clear the air -- not the customers.

"You're sitting here taking customers out of my business that can walk across the street, across the county line that can smoke," Szews said. "Has the city ever considered they're taking money out of their pocket, too?"

At the end of 2012 a smoking ban was put in place for unincorporated areas of Charleston County. The law targeted Richard's Bar in Mount Pleasant, a smoke friendly location. But people there are still lighting up because the bar is suing the county.

Szews isn't ready for legal action just yet, though she's not ruling it out.

"I think it's worth pursuing. How much do we get to have rights taken away before we do something? If it's technically for safety and environmental health, why are some businesses excluded," said Szews. "It should either be a statewide ordinance or not at all."

The ordinance gives some exceptions to cigar and smoke shops. Smokers caught in the act elsewhere would face up to a $25 fine.