Calliope Writing

Graffiti Magazine Volume 2 Issue 2
November 3, 2009, 7:19 pm
Filed under: My Magazine Articles | Tags: , ,
Graffiti - Smoking BanSmoking Ban

Everyone from Hilton Head to Summerville is talking about the proposed smoking ban for Charleston.  On Tuesday, January 9th, the City Council’s vote gave initial approval to the aforementioned ban, which would affect workplaces in Charleston, including bars and restaurants.  The smoking ordinance would not allow smoking within 15 feet of a business.  The reasoning is this would prevent any smoke from entering a workplace.  It may prove to be a nuisance, especially on narrow roads such as King Street.  The proposed 15 feet rule would place smokers in the middle of the street.  Also, this would prevent smokers from puffing as they walk down the sidewalks in front of businesses.The majority of Charlestonians are disturbed by this proposed ordinance.  “What the fuck ever happened to smoker’s rights?” Robbie Silver of Mount Pleasant declared.  He’s not the only one who believes that this law, if passed, is infringing on our rights as Americans.Even some non-smokers are opposed to the ban, believing that the government does not have a right to regulate smoking.  Bernadette Galera of Charleston states, “As a non-smoker, I say . . . FINALLY! As an American, I say, if you don’t like smoking and it bothers you, don’t go [to the establishment].”  This is a popular opinion throughout smokers and non-smokers in the Lowcountry.  Jennifer Gibson of James Island, a smoker, echoes this sentiment.  “As customers,” she explains, “we have the choice to go to or stay out of smoking places.”

One question keeps coming up:  why is the government allowed to legislate the running of privately owned businesses?  One worker from City Bar is outraged by the proposed ban.  “We own the space at City Bar . . . we don’t rent . . .we pay the taxes . . . and we say who comes in and who doesn’t.  Where in all of that does it sound like a public place?”  In situations such as these, the ban seems to be less democratic and more communist or fascist.

Another concern is Charleston’s economy.  Many residents feel as though this ban will affect downtown’s economy and create a domino effect.  “Springfield, IL just [enforced a smoking ban] this past year.  Most business dropped 30-50%,” Zack Stone of Mount Pleasant said.  Will the same occur in Charleston if the proposed ban is passed?  Only time will tell.

Not all of the population is opposed to the ban, however.  Many are looking forward to the days when they will be able to leave a bar without their clothes and hair stinking of cigarettes.  And for some, this ban is reminiscent of home.  Tommy Ray of Charleston Social Group said, “Since I’m a non-smoker and from California and that’s been the law there for some times, I don’t have any issue with the ban whatsoever.”  He went on to explain that at the majority of bars in the area, there is an outdoors smoking area where smokers can congregate.  Therefore, Ray doesn’t anticipate that the ban will have a large affect on smokers and bar owners.

Regardless of the city populace’s opinions, the smoking ban is on its way to be approved.  It must pass two more votes before it will be put into place.  July 2007 is the anticipated date that the ordinance will become instituted, if passed.  So smoke ’em while you got ’em . . .while you can.

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