Smokers could experience some changes to their habit while in Beaufort County, if some proposed changes to county smoking ordinances pass.
The Beaufort County Council Community Services Committee is drafting the changes to extend the indoor ban already in place at county buildings, to the outdoor property as well.
This would do away with designated smoking areas, prohibiting smoking in parking lots and in places like ball fields at county parks.
Although this strengthens the ordinance already in place in covering more area where smoking is not permitted, the consequences are suggested to be weakened. The proposal includes lowering the maximum fine to $25, instead of $200. It also eliminates jail time as a consequence of violation.
The ban would include vaping as a form of smoking not to be permitted on county property.
“Smoking is generally defined as the inhalation and exhalation of smoke through a tobacco product or similar device,” Beaufort County Assistant Attorney Allison Coppage says.
Some vapers say they believe this would be unnecessary, and would hope to be set apart from those who smoke cigarettes.
“I thought it was a bit much…almost kind of ridiculous,” vape shop owner Tara Higgins says.
Higgins co-owns The Vape-It Store on Lady’s Island. She believes vapers should get a pass on the ban.
“You know, I think you should still be able to vape in the places that smoking isn’t permitted, especially outside. I do think it’s a lot different. I mean, there’s no smell, no odor, anything like that, no trash coming from it,” she says.
She says it could be a struggle for those who practice the alternative to smoking not to vape out of doors, in open space like parks and in the courthouse parking lot.
“It’s definitely what I want to do up until I reach the door. Once I reach the door, I’ll put it right back into my pocket. But I still do want that little bit of um, ‘okay, you know, I can vape as much as I want before I go sit in here for X-amount of hours,'” she says.
The changes are still in the proposal stage, as the Committee is set to present them to County Council at a later date.