Horry County Council is considering a ban on all tobacco and vaping products on Horry County property including county buildings and parks.
Is it a good idea? Is it necessary to protect Horry County residents from the health dangers of second-hand cigarette smoke?
The ordinance’s first reading is set for its first reading this week at the county council’s Fall planning retreat – whether you approve or don’t approve, now is the time to let Horry County council know…
What Would the Horry County Smoking Ban Cover?
The ban would apply to all Horry County government property including county buildings, parking lots, county parks, and other public areas. It would apply to all tobacco products or other nicotine delivery systems like vapes, but it would not apply to smoking cessation products:
“Smoking and/or use of any Tobacco Product is strictly prohibited on all Horry County Government properties, whether owned, leased, or operated, including but not limited to, offices, buildings, entryways, decks, patios and exits, parking lots, common areas, outside stairways, and parks and recreation areas, including parks, fields or facilities.”
The ordinance defines tobacco products as any product “made, or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means.
You can smoke in your car on county property, but only if the doors are closed and the windows are rolled up. Violations of the ordinance would be punishable by a fine.
The ordinance would prohibit county employees from taking paid smoking breaks and provides for punishment for county employees who smoke including termination of their employment.
Why Shouldn’t We Ban Smoking on all County Property?
How many county employers are smokers who are addicted to nicotine? Should we really prohibit them from taking smoke breaks? Fire them for being addicted to nicotine?
If there are serious health concerns from second-hand smoke that the ordinance would address, then maybe. Does it actually address health concerns from second-hand smoke, or is this more about imposing our non-smoking will on the smokers of the world?
I found this article from almost ten years that lists some of the more common justifications for banning smoking. Do these justifications even apply to the proposed Horry County ordinance? Consider:
Second-hand smoke has negative health consequences for non-smokers.
This is true, although the degree of harm is debatable.
Well, it’s true if we are talking about people smoking indoors and forcing other people to breathe their smoke. No one smokes inside county buildings as far as I know – this ordinance’s intent is to shut down designated smoking areas that are outdoors in the open air. No one is being forced to breathe second-hand smoke at out-of-the-way, outdoor designated smoking areas…
The designated smoking areas that currently exist have ashtrays. Banning smoking and removing the ashtrays results in more litter – people are going to smoke anyway, and, when they do, there will not be an ashtray to put out their cigarette.
The lingering odor of stale cigarettes.
This is a great reason to ban smoking indoors at public places. It’s also a great reason not to smoke in your car or house. Honestly, it’s a great reason to stop smoking altogether once you realize how horrible it smells.
I’m pretty sure the smell of stale cigarettes does not linger in a parking lot outdoors, though.
The right to a healthy workplace.
Again, outdoor smoking areas do not affect the health of any person other than the smokers. Non-smoking employees are no longer forced to choose between breathing smoke at their workplace or finding another job. They are not impacted at all.
The medical costs of secondhand smoke.
Outdoor smoking areas do not force non-smokers to breathe secondhand smoke. The smoke that they are not breathing does not cause them to have medical problems.
The direct smoke breathed by the smokers clearly has huge medical costs. Arguments about the medical costs of secondhand smoke that people are not breathing just don’t work, anymore.
The Proposed Smoking Ban is a Terrible Idea
I don’t smoke. The smoking ban will not affect me personally, although I would like to see fewer people make the choice to smoke cigarettes.
What affects all of us, however, is the fact that we now live in a nanny-state where the government has inserted itself into every facet of our everyday lives. I am firmly opposed to laws or ordinances that criminalize victimless conduct or that are designed to force other citizens to act the way we want them to act based on our own morals or beliefs.
Government should be in the business of providing necessary services and protecting us from each other. With few exceptions, government’s role is not to protect us from ourselves.