A petition is making its rounds to ban smoking in The Alley


AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – City leaders are aware of the request to ban smoking in The Alley but the City Manager said the concerns have not been brought up at a council meeting yet.

Stuart Bedenbaugh said, “As I go around town, I’ve had individuals periodically come up to me and raise that as a point.”

“Everybody wants to be free to do whatever they want but it stinks when cigarette smoke is going into somebody else’s face. We got people out here trying to have a good time with their families. Maybe there needs to be a designated spot but as far as a communal space like this, I would say I’m for it,” said Brian Clark, Owner of Whiskey Alley.

Although others say butt out.

“It makes no sense to me. I’m in the mind of ‘mind your business.’ So if you don’t like people smoking, don’t go near them,” said Mique Diaz.

So far, The Alley smoking ban petition has more than 200 signatures.

“People were worried that the whole reason of this petition was to make The Alley more family-friendly and again, that was not the whole purpose at all. The purpose was to safely eat outdoors without second-hand smoke,” said Jen Easters, the writer of the petition.

“People who smoke in The Alley, they’re just going to leave and go somewhere else and then every other place that you like, you’re not going to be able to go anymore because you don’t like that second-hand smoke. Let’s keep it in this part of Aiken and call it a day,” said Diaz.

Clark added, “Fifteen whatever it was years ago when we banned inside smoking and everyone said it was going to be a big deal. And we’ll lose business and nothing changed. People tend to adapt to whatever is going on. If you have a way to contain it into a small space that doesn’t bother them, invent that thing. But otherwise, this is America. Don’t blow smoke in my face.”

City Manager Bedenbaugh explained the council’s approach is to get through the COVID-19 pandemic before they address smoking concerns.

He said, “I do believe this issue will come up before council at a later date and council will listen, will look at the petition, listen to public comment, and make a decision.”

Bedenbaugh added it is a possibly a designated smoking area could be added. But for now, you’re free to light up anywhere outside in The Alley.

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