Smokers relocate after MUSC ban, causing problems for businesses

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A portion of Ashley Avenue has been nicknamed "Ashtray Avenue" by one Charleston businesses since MUSC went smoke free.

Now, owners are left cleaning up the mess made by people taking smoke breaks across from the hospital. Halo restaurant on Ashley Avenue is suffering from the second hand smoke.

The lines between MUSC's tobacco free campus and Gene Anderson's store front have become a bit cloudy from smoke.

"Now that they can't smoke at MUSC so they've migrated to every corner available over here," said Halo Restaurant owner Gene Anderson.

Customers at Anderson's Ashley Avenue restaurant have been complaining about smokers walking off campus to smoke near his outdoor seating.

"The last thing they want to smell is smoke while they're eating," he said. "We like to open the doors and be able to feel that breeze and were tempted to close them now."

Before the tobacco ban on March 1, Anderson says he never saw smokers on the street corners before., but now he says they are there all the time and they are leaving their mark.

"It's mainly the trash that bothers me and other business owners on this street," Anderson said. "It's not something I would think the city wants tourists to see."

Some people are using a bucket Anderson put out on the side of his building to encourage smokers to stay away from his outside seating. He put it out Friday night and says it was full by morning.

"We've had to have one person dump the trash bucket out there, sweep off continuously throughout the day," he said. "It just looks bad for us."

MUSC officials say since that side of Ashley Avenue isn't on campus, there's nothing they can do to control the smokers.

Anderson says he hopes the city will provide public ash trays to help control the problem.

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