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News Summary

Surfside pauses smoking ban

Publication Date: 10/29/2008
  • Publication:Myrtle Beach Online

As the Surfside Beach Town Council considers revisions to its controversial law, smokers in town have at least a little while longer to light up legally.

"There's no enforceable ban in place right now," said Police Chief Andy Christenson. "We're not enforcing it because the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional."

As a result, Town Administrator Ed Booth said there is a sense of urgency to get a revised smoking ban passed. He said he expects the changes to be put before the council for a final reading in the next 30 days.

The Town Council started to review its ordinance - which prohibits smoking in all enclosed places such as bars and public spaces such as beaches - in September, after the S.C. Supreme Court ruled local governments were not allowed to assess criminal penalties for smoking ban violations in a case involving a Sullivans Island ordinance.

On Sept. 9, the council gave preliminary approval to reducing the fine from $100 and court costs to a maximum $25. The council also gave preliminary approval to a proposal to remove the restriction on lighting up within 30 feet of front entrances to public buildings.

Now the council is considering applying the distance to all buildings, private or public. Under the proposal, smoking would be banned within 10 feet of any entrance to an enclosed space.

In order for any changes to take place, the Town Council must approve the ordinance again, and until that happens, the current ban is suspended.