Horry County Council is looking at banning tobacco in all public buildings, including restaurants and bars in unincorporated areas, after deciding not to vote on a proposed ordinance banning tobacco on county-owned property.
The original proposal would have outlawed the use of any tobacco product on county property, including parking lots, parks and recreation areas such as playing fields and boat landings.
After some discussion during Wednesday’s fall retreat, the council decided to put off the vote and rewrite the ordinance.
Council Chair Mark Lazarus said the council will read two new ordinance on Dec. 12: one to ban smoking in all public buildings, and another that would prohibit smoking outside county buildings with the exception of special smoking areas.
“It’ll eliminate the parking lot stuff and the boat landings,” Lazarus said of the “watered down” ordinance, adding the prohibitions against smoking in county ball fields would still be in place.
Councilman Harold Worley spoke in favor of banning smoking in all public buildings.
“I want to allow stopping it in every building in the county,” said Worley, adding that most people already don’t want to smoke indoors, and emphasizing his own history with tobacco.
“I was raised on a tobacco farm,” he said. “It’s in my blood. I’ve been chewing tobacco since I was 10 years old and I’m still doing it because I can’t kick the habit.”
But councilman Johnny Vaught wasn’t a fan.
“To me it’s a business decision as to whether or not you allowed people in your bar or restaurant to smoke,” Vaught said. “Shouldn’t I be free to conduct business under my business model?”
Vaught said he didn’t think the government should be taking away choice.
“My main problem with the whole deal was the fact that we were taking choice away from the people and I don’t think government ever should do that,” said Vaught. “The other ordinance as it was presented was just totally crazy. You couldn’t even walk in from the parking lot with a pack of cigarettes in your pocket if it could be seen.”
Worley said the proposed smoking ban was about timing.
“We have discussed this before and it was called Smoke-Free Horry and we couldn’t get it passed,” he said. “Hopefully this time, they’ll be enough people like Johnny (Vaught) to get it passed.”