Smoking ban final in Surfside Beach

The town passed a similar ordinance about a year ago that made infractions a criminal offense. But when the SC Supreme Court ruled such bans could not carry criminal penalties, the town's ordinance became null.

The new ordinance reduces the penalty to a civil infraction, and violators will now face a fine between $10-25. Businesses who violate the ban can also be punished under the new law.

The ban includes most of the same areas that were covered in the first ordinance, including restaurants, bars, parks, public businesses and beaches. People won't be allowed to smoke on sidewalks unless they are ten feet from any public entrance.

The council passed the ban 6-1, with the only dissented being town Mayor Allen Deaton.

"I think it's too broad," the Mayor said. "I just think it should be a state legislature responsibility."

Deaton has in the past aired concerns about the legality of such smoking bans, saying he felt the town might be overreaching its power.

Bar-goers Tuesday night seemed unfazed by the ban and had no problems lighting up.

"I think you should be able to go into a bar and if you want to smoke a cigarette, you should be able to smoke a cigarette," said smoker Rhonda Tompkins.

Others favor the ban and say it's a positive step forward.

"I'm all for it, especially in restaurants," said Michelle Ochs, an occasional smoker.

How the town will enforce its new ban remains a question, but it will be left up to Town Administrator Ed Booth to figure it out. Booth said Tuesday night he wasn't quite sure how it would be enforced, though he has the power to appoint "enforcers," much like meter maids, to watch for those lighting up in banned places.