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Goose Creek business owners say they are losing business due to smoking ban

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Goose Creek's smoking ban has been in effect since July 1st. It means there is no smoking inside businesses in the city. Some business owners say it has had a dramatic impact on their business.

At Tuesday nights Goose Creek City Council meeting, Harold Dukes, the owner of Day Bingo in Goose Creek, told council that the smoking ban has hurt his business. "Our revenues fell down more than 50% and we will be closing, I imagine, in the next 30 to 60 days if we don't have some relief."

Dukes asked council to revisit the issue, and perhaps allow bars and bingo businesses to offer smoking in their businesses.

The fact that Dukes' business may be closing soon has his employees concerned.

Michele Ashe is the General Manager of Day Bingo. "I've already cut 60 hours a week in payroll."

Ashe says they keep track of customers each month, and they lost 200 customers in the month of July, compared to June, when smoking was allowed. They have cut 2 full time positions.

Ashe says that is just the beginning, "unless business picks back up, more cuts are coming."

Vicki Brogdon has worked at Day Bingo for about 14 years. She says she is working fewer hours and making less money. She doesn't understand why businesses like Day Bingo, which built separate rooms for smoking and non-smoking customers, including high-powered air scrubbers, can not offer smoking to their customers. "We've been like this for five or six years. We built this for the non-smokers. So it's been a big impact on our business. Very bad.

As Day Bingo loses business, so do other businesses nearby, like Bruce's Bar and Grill in the same shopping center.  Bruce Witham owns the bar, "I mean it's hurt our business as much as it has the bingo parlor, because the bingo parlor is my business. We serve them food every day. They drastically lost a lot of customers and so have I.

Bruce says he has cut back from opening daily at noon to now opening at 4pm. He estimates he has lost 30-35% of his business, and he had to let one employee go so far.

Vicki over at the bingo parlor says she is very worried about not having a job in the near future. "It's a little terrifying. I have a home I have to pay for, you know a car, home electricity. And I can see it coming down to something soon."

Goose Creek Mayor Mike Heitzler says he voted against the smoking ban because he was concerned about issues like what these businesses are going through. He says he does not believe Council will revisit the issue. He said the only way that would be possible is if one of the four council members who voted for the ordinance were to bring the issue back up for discussion.

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