Myrtle Beach restaurants ponder smoking ban impact

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Flanked by cities to the North and South with sweeping smoking bans, restaurants and bars in Myrtle Beach are now considering the impact of a smoking ban in their city.

Smoking bans are in effect in both Surfside Beach and North Myrtle Beach, meaning that restaurants and bars that used to cater to both smokers and non-smokers, must ask certain customers to put out their cigarettes before coming inside. Certain Myrtle Beach restaurants say they've developed a loyal clientele based on their ability to cater to both smoking and non-smoking crowds.

"The pier itself and the wraparound bar allows for smoking," said Mike Phillips, a bartender at the 2nd Ave. Pier. "But both the bar and the restaurant are smoke free."

Phillips says several customers come to the bar at the pier because they know they can light up while enjoying their drink. If a ban were put in place, those customers would have to find another spot to smoke.

"We'd have some customers that disapprove," Phillips said. "But I don't think it would be to the point we'd fight a ban. If the ban's citywide, they're going to go somewhere and I'll assume they'll still come here."

Visitors to the Grand Strand area say smoking bans are commonplace in several states, so they're actually surprised to see people can still light up indoors, and it even affects where some people choose to eat.

"Ohio passed a statewide smoking ban," said visitor Bobby Bianchi. "Now, I just don't have that experience of being in a smoking establishment, so I'm more prone to take a step back."

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