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New Richmond County ordinance could ban smoking in bars, nightclubs

Augusta smoking ban

Augusta commissioners are considering adopting stricter smoking ban restrictions after conducting public hearings. (WRDW-TV / July 27, 2011)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, July 27, 2011

AUGUSTA -- Bobbie Calhoun remembers the day three years ago when The Highlander in North Augusta said no more smoking to its customers.

"For a while there, it actually ran customers away until they realized that we actually built a smoking area outside," she said.

It was part of a chain of new ordinances in Aiken County that put a clamp down on smoking. Patrons of bars, restaurants and nightclubs that serve only those older than 18 years of age had to flick the cigarettes out, indoors anyway. Some went outside to smoke, but others crossed the bridge.

"[They went] to the umpteen-million bars [in downtown Augusta to] be able to sit down and enjoy their beer and their cigarette and their company," Calhoun said.

But now, Augusta commissioners may adopt the same ordinance.

"I think it's all going to be based on the results of the hearing," said Commissioner Jerry Brigham of District 7. He says the public hearings may determine whether the ordinance itself goes up in smoke. He says there is a strong argument for adopting it, though.

"Being the home of the medical college, I think we ought to at least attempt to provide a healthy community, so that everybody can have a long life-span," he told News 12.

Brigham says the new ban could hurt business immediately, but after a while, he thinks business will actually improve.

Calhoun isn't so sure about that.

"I am a customer at bars downtown. None of them really have any outdoor seating," she said.

She says without a nice place to sit and smoke, some people will just opt to stay home. A smoker herself, she says she'll personally be affected by the ordinance.

"I'll just have to learn to deal with it. That's really all I can do," she said.


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