Group petitions for smoke-free Columbia - - Columbia, South Carolina

Group petitions for smoke-free Columbia

(Columbia) July 10, 2006 - Should Columbia join a growing list of cities and states and ban indoor smoking in restaurants, bars and offices? The mayor says City Council could debate the issue as soon as next month.

It's almost noon at the No Name Deli. For George Heisler and the rest of the staff, that means cranking out the burgers, the hot cornbread and everything else the No Name is known for.

But one thing you can't order there is a table for smokers. It's one of at least four dozen smoke-free restaurants in Columbia.

The No Name has good reasons to prohibit smoking. The building is hard to ventilate, and it gets very crowded there around lunch time.

But owner Glenn Kubilis says the ban has also turned out to be a smart business decision. "There was only a few people got upset, but almost immediately, our business increased 20 percent."

Now, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble says it might be time to consider a city-wide smackdown on smoking, "I think the Surgeon General makes it pretty clear that second-hand smoke is a health risk to those who smoke and those who don't smoke."

Almost 3,000 people agree. They've signed petitions supporting a movement called "Smokefree Columbia." The signatures will be turned over to City Council next month.

The group hopes they will prompt the city to outlaw second-hand smoke in restaurants and other indoor workplaces, including bars. Lauren Vincent, who is part of the group, says, "I think that the evidence is becoming a little bit more clear about the dangers of secondhand smoke, that it is very dangerous. It's something that is, the knowledge is increasing about that."

At least one smoker has already learned to live with the idea. "I smoke but I can go places and have dinner three hours and not smoke. It doesn't bother me."

Coble says the council will hear from all sides before making any decisions.    

If you'd like to express your support on the petition, click here>> 

Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Updated 10:35am by Chantelle Janelle

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