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      North Myrtle Beach city leaders discuss indoor smoking ban

      Another Grand Strand community could go smoke-free.

      North Myrtle Beach city council is debating an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in enclosed public places.

      City leaders debated issues Monday that included whether business vehicles be included in a ban and whether the term private residence include condo rentals.

      More than 40 South Carolina cities and counties now have some sort of ban on indoor smoking. North Myrtle Beach would join that list, if family physician Dr. Nicholas Pennings has anything to say about it.

      "People are being harmed by second hand smoke. It's very unhealthy, it poses significant risks, it causes medical complications and there's a role for government for protecting the people," said Pennings, who belongs to the group, Smoke Free North Myrtle Beach.

      Pennings said he thinks an indoor smoking ban would help North Myrtle Beach businesses more than it would hurt them.

      "There is a study that was done that showed that tourists that come to the area would like to see smoke free restaurants and bars."

      But North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley says she won't vote for an ordinance that would put anyone out of business. That would include a North Myrtle Beach cigar store and lounge, where the owner says it's not necessary for the government to get involved in prohibiting smoking.

      "Let the business owner, the man who's there investing his money and his time, let him make the decision whether it should be smoking or non smoking," said Nick Goebel, owner of Nick's Cigar World.

      But Boebel said he's resigned to the fact that some sort of smoking ban will probably pass in North Myrtle Beach. At least, he said, the council doesn't appear to want to hurt business. "It looks that what they pass is going to be maybe more reasonable than what I was afraid of." But Boebel said he's resigned to the fact that some sort of smoking ban will probably pass in North Myrtle Beach. At least, he said, the council doesn't appear to want to hurt business. "It looks that what they pass is going to be maybe more reasonable than what I was afraid of."

      Monday's meeting was a workshop, so the council did not take a vote. Spokesman Pat Dowling said he city attorney will come back to the council with an amended version of the ordinance proposed by Smoke Free North Myrtle Beach for further discussion at another workshop sometime in January.

      The town of Surfside Beach passed an indoor smoking ban in 2007. Atlantic Beach passed a ban this year.

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