Hotelier: MB 'behind the curve' on smoke-free workplace ordinance

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - More than 41 communities across South Carolina are saying 'no thanks' to smoking in the workplace after enacting ordinances to cut down on lighting up.

Surfside Beach and Atlantic Beach are two of the latest communities to follow the trend, which aims to improve air quality and health risks in public places like banks, hotels and restaurants. The City of Myrtle Beach has yet to consider such an ordinance, but the calls for action are becoming stronger.

That's because the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors unanimously voted recently to support movement towards a smoke-free workplace ordinance. The approval comes on the heels of similar support by the North Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Frans Mustert, a hotelier in Myrtle Beach, says he turned heads nearly eight years ago when his hotel was the first to transition from smoking to smoke-free in Myrtle Beach. Three years later, more of Mustert's hotels made the transition until he turned more than 10 hotels along Myrtle Beach's coastline smoke-free.

He says since making the big decision, he's saved thousands of dollars. Mustert says no longer are cigarettes damaging bedding, furniture and carpeting in his line of hotels, like Camelot By The Sea on 20th Avenue North.

The green is heading straight back to his company when it's time to pay up for insurance and liability. He says costs have been greatly reduced because there's less of a threat of a fire in one of his hotels due to cigarettes or smokers.

Opponents of the smoke-free workplace idea tell WMBF News they're worried the decision will hurt the local economy and tourism. Smoke Free Horry says after Charleston went smoke-free, the city saw a 5.9 percent boost in tourism.

While no official proposal for going smoke-free in the workplace has been made to leaders in Myrtle Beach, representatives for Healthy Horry say they hope one is considered by the end of 2011.

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