Aiken County smoking ban goes into effect

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News 12 at 11 o'clock, June 1, 2007

AIKEN CTY, S.C.---Smokers in the cities of North Augusta and Aiken are free to light up as usual, but smoking is now prohibited in unincorporated areas of Aiken County.

We went to Logan's Family Restaurant in Burnetteville to see how this could affect their business. The crowd was mixed with both smokers and non-smokers, and their reaction to the ban was also mixed.

"Everybody has a right not to smoke, just like we have the right to smoke," said waitress and smoker Rhonda Keenan.

Rhonda says she respects the air space of those who don't.

"Got to understand, a lot of nonsmokers has to do with kids and all, so you have to give the kids respect and all," she said.

"I think it's a good idea," said patron Casey Sellers. He has a young daughter and says he kicked the habit, and now that he has a baby, he's glad he did.

"I smoked when I was young, and I hit teen and I ain't been smoking for seven years," he said. "I don't like to be around it when I'm eating."

"They say, 'Oh, you're stifling me with that cigarette smoke," said cook Star Buff. Star says she's neutral on the subject, but agrees fresher air is better for customers and those who frequent the restaurant with small babies and children.

"I don't like her being around (cigarette smoke)," Casey said. "I don't allow no smoking in my house, so I prefer to not have it in a restaurant."

"I think it's justified," one patron said.

"I don't intend to quit," another said. "'I'd go outside and smoke and I'd respect that."

Smoking is now prohibited in the following establishments in unincorporated areas of Aiken County: banks, restaurants, health care and adult care facilities, child day care centers, stores, and shopping malls.

Ban violators can be fined $200 or jailed for up to 30 days. Aiken County officials are planning to monitor the new ban to see how well it goes over. As for how they plan to enforce it, they are still looking into that.

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