A group of local bar and club owners wants the county commissioners to reconsider the ban that will prohibit smoking in their businesses.
The business owners say the ban will stop customers from going to bars and clubs, and they will lose business. They want to see it changed so that businesses that allow smoking now can continue to do so, or to allow businesses to construct ventilation rooms for smokers.
Commissioners did not make a decision on the proposed changes and plan to discuss it at their next meeting Nov. 26. If the commissioners decide to make any change, they would have to vote to amend the ban, Commissioner Tom Kite said.
The countywide ban the commissioners approved will prohibit smoking starting Jan. 1 in all public places and workplaces, including bars, private clubs and hotels, and on all county-owned or leased property.
State ban: A state ban that took effect over the summer bans smoking in most buildings that the public can visit, excluding bars and private clubs, and within 8 feet of the entrances.
Greenwood ban: Greenwood prohibits smoking within 25 feet of most buildings that are visited by the public, in all public parks and on all city property except street, sidewalks and trails. The ban does not include bars.
Franklin ban: Franklin prohibits smoking in all public buildings, including bars, private clubs, tobacco retail shops and new hotels.
Current county ban: The county currently follows the state ban.
New county ban: The county commissioners have approved a ban that prohibits smoking on all county-owned or leased property, including public parks, and all public places and places of employment, including bars and private clubs. The ban is countywide, which means it will include the unincorporated areas of the county and the cities and towns. The ban will go into effect on Jan. 1.
The ban includes both the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county, meaning Greenwood, Edinburgh and other local communities will have to follow the ban.
Bars and other businesses that currently allow smoking will have to put up signs and make other changes to become nonsmoking buildings by Jan. 1. Franklin businesses will not have to make any changes because the city already has a smoking ban for all public places.
A group of local bar and private club owners say they did not get any information on the proposal before it was approved and want the commissioners to amend the ban. Owners and representatives from at least six bars and private clubs attended the commissioner’s meeting Monday to ask how they could change the ban.
Duane Terry and his wife, Marsha, who own Cliff’s Bar and Grill in Edinburgh, proposed the commissioners’ add a grandfather clause that would let bars that currently allow smoking to continue doing so after the ban went into effect.
If a new bar was opened or a bar was sold, it would have to follow the smoking ban, Marsha Terry said.
The Edinburgh bar owners also suggested allowing businesses to have ventilation rooms that are separated from the rest of the business.
Ventilation rooms have filtering systems that draw smoke out of the room, Whit’s Inn owner David Martin said.
Martin said his building does not have enough space for a ventilation room, and the bar would have to pay more than $10,000 to construct it.
Instead of amending the ban, Martin said he would like the commissioners to get rid of it completely.
Business owners should be able to decide if they want to allow smoking in their buildings, he said.
Bars and private clubs face losing 40 percent to 70 percent of their business if customers are not allowed to smoke because they will stay home or go to other bars where they can smoke, Martin said.
The decrease in revenue would force business owners to lay off employees or cut how much employees would be able to work, Martin said.
Going to bars where smoking is allowed is a resident’s choice, he said.
The commissioners should not prevent bars from giving them that option.
“Let us run our small businesses and pay our taxes and be conductive,” Martin said.