Thursday, July 25, 2013
A new citywide smoking ban has received mixed reviews at one Goose Creek bar.
Todd Petrea took a drag off his cigarette as he stood outside the Sportsman’s Whistle Stop on a recent Friday evening. The sun set into purple clouds as traffic blurred by on South Goose Creek Boulevard just a few feet behind him.
“They’re sending our business to the county,” he said. “They’re sending tax dollars out of the city.”
Goose Creek City Council voted to pass an indoor smoking ban in January. It went into effect July 1.
Petrea said the new law means customers will opt to travel a short distance down Redbank Road to be at Berkeley County bars where they can smoke indoors. “The county line is just around the corner,” he said.
Petrea was outside joking around with regular customers as they smoked cigarettes on the patio he helped build about eight months ago. His wife Kelly Petrea owns the bar, he said.
“You still can’t smoke in the rain,” he said. “Business took a hit, especially on bad weather days. To get an awning we would have to go through the planning commission. It hasn’t been cold yet. That’s going to be another hit.”
Inside the bar was a different story.
Bartender Jessica Thompkins said it seemed the ban has not had much effect on business. “I like it. And I smoke,” she said.
Smokers can bring drinks to the patio and sit at concrete tables and benches, she said.
“We may have lost a few chain smokers,” Thompkins said. “A lot of our regulars still come here. A lot of regulars also have e-cigarettes now, which you can smoke inside.”
She said sometimes it got as smoky as the bingo halls she went to with her grandmother, as she motioned her hands around her face as if clearing imaginary smoke.
Customer David Harmon, an ex-smoker, said he was not sure about the ban at first but is glad it’s in effect. “It doesn’t bother me now that I had heart surgery two years ago,” Harmon said. “That’s a way to quit, quadruple bypass of your heart. It makes you think twice about smoking when you get out. They couldn't get my lungs started.”
According to Harmon, when smoking was allowed it was never that bad. He said there were never more than eight to 10 people smoking.
“This used to be a bait and tackle as long as I can remember,” Harmon said. “At least 35 years. You could drink beer here when it was a tackle shop.”
The Sportsman’s Whistle Stop is a full bar with beer, wine, liquor and food.
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