A proposed Horry County ordinance to ban smoking in all public buildings including bars and restaurants could hurt local businesses.
“That would kill me,” said Magoos owner James Mulvanerton, whose bar sits just across the Intracoastal Waterway outside of Myrtle Beach. “They would just go over the line and smoke. It’s completely ridiculous.”
Magoos has a large population of smokers, and Mulvanerton is worried the ordinance, introduced by county councilman Harold Worley, would force customers across the river to smoke in Myrtle Beach bars where a smoking ban doesn’t exist.
“If they want to change my entire business model completely, I’m going to have to fight it some,” he said, adding that his business gets bigger every time another bar goes non-smoking. “Why do they have to decide which customers get to do what in my business?”
Mulvanerton said Horry County ordinances already prevent customers from loitering in parking lots, and he doesn’t have room to give his customers a smoking area outside.
“I think it’s B.S.,” said Thomas Byrne, who was smoking a cigarette at the end of Magoos’ bar. “I’ve been smoking for 45 years, and I think we should have our rights to smoke, especially when you’re drinking.”
The Pittsburgh native said that non-smokers should go to non-smoking bars, and that he would go someplace else if the ban was implemented.
“If they ban smoking here, he’s gonna lose my business because I enjoy a cigarette with a cold beer,” he said.
Across the bar, Noreen Alexander said she wouldn’t go to any bars in Myrtle Beach, but a smoking ban would keep her from drinking at Magoos.
“We sit here, we eat, we drink, we might spend four or five hours,” she said. “But if my smoking was limited, I could stay home and drink. I would come just for the food and then leave.”
She said the option to smoke should be up to the business owners and patrons.
“I don’t think it’s the government’s decision,” she said.
Worley said his proposed ordinance mirrors the North Myrtle Beach smoking ban passed in 2012, which prohibits smoking in any public building but allows for smoking outside as long as the smoke doesn’t find its way inside. He said the ordinance has worked well there.
“It’s health reasons,” he said, adding that people should just smoke outside. “People as a rule don’t want to smell someone else’s cigarette smoke, that’s very simply the reason for it.”
Worley said people have a right to smoke “as long as they don’t infringe on someone else’s face.”
“You have people that it doesn’t bother, and others that it does,” Worley said. “They get real upset when someone lights up a cigarette at the next table, and chances are, those people won’t come back.”
Klockers Tavern owner Jason Klocker said he was against the ban, but that it wouldn’t hurt his business.
“My client base is probably 90 percent service industry people, which is probably the highest percentage of smokers,” he said. “I’m where they go after work.”
Unlike Mulvanerton, Klocker said he has room to set up a smoking area outside his bar.
“The funniest part of all this that they went through all that trouble a year ago of having [late-night bars] submit a safety plan,” he said, referring to an ordinance passed by the council in January 2017.
“One of the stipulations is you’re not allowed to have people milling around outside the building. You’re not allowed to be outside the business, but you’re not allowed to be inside the business,” he said. “Where are they supposed to go, the roof?”
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, a number of other South Carolina counties have banned smoking, including Charleston County.
For a full list of counties and cities that have banned smoking, click here.