Welcome to the Tobacco Belt

Soy milk, cottage cheese, bread, and mozzarella cheese. Sure, they have nothing to do with the tobacco belt, but they're where this story begins. Just yesterday after a joyous stop to blockbuster, I ran into the neighboring FoodLion and ran into a not-so-joyous time. Seems the person in charge of scheduling thought it'd be a great idea to only schedule two cashiers on a Friday night at 7.00pm. As I was standing in line, it all happened.

I'd heard around the office that a neighboring city had a bill to ban smoking in public restaurants. Even though it's not news that smoking bans are being passed in many cities, i thought it was interesting that there was one being passed in a city with such a high population so smokers. Moving here from the Midwest and then going back to visit after a year down here, I was astounded by how few people smoke there (or how many smoke here.)

The previous day in the office, those who pay attention to the local governments had a very interesting story to tell. Turns out that one of the higher-ranking city officials pushed in an addendum as he didn't want to see the bill passed that not only made smoking illegal in public restaurants, but all public places -- including the beach! Figuring that would stop people from passing the bill, it was slightly over-looked and the bill still passed, now making people realize that they had actually banned smoking everywhere -- the first city to do so in the Grand Strand. Pretty stellar stuff.

So back to the story at hand, as I was waiting in line to checkout my 5 items this group of stereotypical southern rednecks lined up behind me. They started talking about what they were going to do that evening before suddenly remembering they forgot to pick up sour cream for the evening's dinner. When the lady who ran across the store to get it came back -- the line still hadn't moved -- the lady whipped around and started this conversation:

"Did you hear what Surfside is doing?" the lady said.
"No, what?" one of the men responded.
"They've just passed a law saying that starting October first," she continued.
"Oh, right! They've decided to ban smoking," the guy said, cutting her off.
"Yeah, they've banned it everywhere, even on the Beach! And I just got that job back at [insert some restaurant], there goes all my tips," she said. "I can't believe it," the other guy said shaking his head. "I can see banning it in the restaurants for those people who don't smoke. But on the beach and within 30 yards of buildings? What are these people on?"
"Yeah," the lady says jumping on the bandwagon, "the only reason I can see for banning it on the beach is because of litter."

It was after that that I laughed a loud. I just couldn't believe it. These people thought the main reason for a city-wide smoking ban was to just clean up the beach of cigarette butts. Seriously, how can you be so ignorant. Maybe it's just part of the culture of the "tobacco belt". Maybe it's the result of the 49th ranked public school system in the united states. Or maybe it's just the mentality of a small group of smokers. One may never know.

But regardless of these possibly crazy people in the grocery store, I sure am glad I'll have a beach to go to now that is smoke-free!