Veterans light up with fury over smoking ban

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Two guys shoot pool under a neon blue Bud Light lamp. A half-dozen others sit on stools around a U-shaped bar, polishing off cold ones and cracking jokes with the bartender.

The scene is familiar inside Rock Hill's American Legion post on a recent weekday afternoon. But a favorite staple is missing, and it's got these veterans fired up and ready to gripe.

No one — not even the those who risked their lives to protect America's freedom — can smoke cigarettes anymore in indoor public gathering places in York County.

"We fought to give our nation the rights that we have now," said Hank Logan, a flight engineer and door gunner in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971. "This is a right I feel has been taken away from us. That's what aggravates me."

The frustration has surfaced more than four months after Rock Hill and York County leaders voted to impose smoking bans. Now, there appears to be little interest in carving out exceptions to the policy.

"The council gave it an awful lot of review, and it came down to a public health issue," Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols said. "That view applies across the board. If it's a health issue one place, it's a health issue everywhere."