Cindy Yarborough has operated Cindy's Flower Shop in Rock Hill for 15 years, and she's never hired a smoker.
"I'd rather not hire a smoker, because none of us smoke," she said. Yarborough said the issue is nothing personal, but cigarette smoke wouldn't do well around a florist shop. However, she doesn't see the point of a proposed new law that would give employers the right not to hire someone just because they're a smoker.
The state hospital association is asking lawmakers to repeal a law passed in the 1980s that protects smokers in the hiring process. The state currently does not allow an employer to pass over a job candidate simply because he or she smokes. This bill, now in the state Senate would reverse that.
Yarborough said she wouldn't feel right telling people they didn't get the job because they smoke.
"I could never hurt someone's feelings that way. I would never do that. I would probably just not hire them, but never tell them it was because they smoke," she said.
Rock Hill restaurant owner Kinch Edwards also doesn't see much need for a new law. Edwards has several smokers on his staff, but said it's never been a problem.
"If they're taking too many (smoke) breaks, then it's my responsibility to tell them they're taking excessive breaks," he said.
Edwards said smoking is always a consideration when he hires someone to work at his restaurant, but it's not a deciding factor. He told Channel 9 that the only benefit he sees in a change in the law would be protection for employers in court.
"That way no one could come back to you and say 'well you only didn't hire me because I smoke, and you can't do that.' It would be good to have the law to back you up," he said.
Smoking advocates have also questioned how, if smoking is a legal activity, could the state allow job discrimination against someone who smokes.
The South Carolina Hospital Association said business owners should have the freedom not to hire smokers.
Efforts to contact the association in Columbia on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The bill is currently in a Senate subcommittee, and is expected to be discussed in that committee on Wednesday. It's not likely to reach the Senate floor for a vote this week.