Under new law, smoking legal on one side of the street, banned on the other

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Soon smoking will be illegal in every bar and restaurant in Richland County.

That comes after the county council passed a strict new ordinance Tuesday evening, set to take effect October 1.

But smokers will not have to go far to light up. One area where that will be most obvious is Harbison Boulevard.

The Midlands dining and shopping hub straddles the border between Richland and Lexington counties.

So in some places, people will not be able to smoke in restaurants and businesses, but if they cross the street the rules will be a lot different.

John Robinson takes a smoke break outside. He can't light up in the building where he works, the Foxfire Grill near Bower Parkway.

Like many smokers, Robinson finds it increasingly tough to indulge as more places and governments outlaw smoking.

Tuesday night, Richland County joined the movement, approving a countywide ban set to go into effect October 1. The county is echoing action by the city of Columbia. A Richland spokeswoman says the county still has to work out a plan for enforcement.

Columbia's smoking ban will add Columbiana Centre to the list of locations where smoking is no longer allowed by law.

There's going to be some confusion about where you can legally smoke and where you can't, especially near county and city lines. The mall for instance, is divided between Richland and Lexington counties. But the City of Columbia says because the entire mall is located within the city, then the city's rule applies here.

Over on Lake Murray Boulevard, some restaurants have already imposed their own rules. Moe's, in Richland County, prohibits smoking.

A short distance up the street and across the county border, Bellacino's is also smoke-free.

"I think it's going to deter people from smoking because you're not going to have as many opportunities to smoke cigarettes as you used to. It is a good thing," says smoker and Bellacino's customer Courtney Johnson.

And now, tobacco foes are now setting their sights on Lexington County.

"We are optimistic that when they have the information that they need and they'll be educated with that, then they'll make the right decision for the public health," says Amanda Strickland of the American Lung Association.

Council chairman Billy Derrick indicates Lexington County still has a long way to go on the issue.

He says members are split between those who want the ban, those who think government has no role in private behavior, and those who prefer to wait until all municipalities are on board.

And he says at this point, Lexington County doesn't even have a draft of an ordinance.

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Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Posted by Logan Smith