Smoking ban, undecided

Bamberg could be number one in small towns going smoke free said Beulah Hand representing DHEC at Thursday night’s meeting. Allot of the big cities are smoke free already and the city of Bamberg has that option as well if the ordinance to ban smoking is passed.

Doctor Mike Watson said that more people die from secondhand cigarette smoke than from anything else in America.

Although very few people attended the meeting at the Civic center in Bamberg to discuss the proposed ordinance banning all smoking in any business within the city limits, it was not met without opposition.

There were a lot of pros and cons concerning the ordinance with several business owners feeling like the government was infringing upon their rights as an American citizen and the right to free enterprise.

This is just another one of our rights that the government is trying to take away; the next thing you know they will be telling us whether we can smoke in our own homes said one business owner.

Carlisle Brabham, representing Betty’s Quick Stop, “This is a free country and if you own your business you should be able to run it like you want to and if you don’t like it then stay out of my business. Whether you allow smoking in your business should be the owner’s decision, not the governments.”

Doctor Watson’s rebuttal to that was “The freedom of your fist ends at the tip of my nose, meaning that you are infringing on other people’s health. Freedom is ok as long as you are not causing harm to others.”

Watson went on to say that smoking is bad for you, noting that one third of high school seniors that graduate will die from secondhand smoke.

Councilwoman Teresa Hannibal said that she would love to have a smoke free city but not at the expense of others. “In my business,” said Hannibal, “not allowing my employees to smoke in a designated area of the business and making them go outside to smoke would be very dangerous. They could be robbed or even killed in my particular type of business.”

Councilwoman Janet Walker said that she went to several businesses in the city to get a feeling on how the owners and their employees felt about the proposed ordinance and for the most part they supported a smoking ban.

Another concerned citizen, Joe Breland, went on to say, “I understand why some people feel that their rights are being infringed upon, but the right to smoke is not being taken away, the right to smoke in public places is.”

Mayor Alton McCollum ended the meeting saying that he totally supports the ban on smoking in all businesses within the city limits of Bamberg that are open to the public.

Councilwoman Walker said the decision is still up in the air, saying that the committee will have to discuss this some more and maybe the public should be allowed to vote on this matter.