4701 Oleander Drive, Suite A
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
If you have walked through downtown Myrtle Beach lately, you might be wondering, “Where did all the smoke shops go?”
If you want to buy a vape, a pipe, or even CBD products, you won’t find them in the downtown area, because the City of Myrtle Beach banned them…
Below, we’ll take a look at what happened to the smoke shops in Myrtle Beach, including:
All smoke shops and vape stores have been banned in the historic downtown Myrtle Beach area – specifically, within the “Ocean Boulevard Entertainment Overlay District” (OBEOD), a zoning district created by the city within which certain retail businesses and merchandise were excluded including:
If you are looking for a nice pipe (for your tobacco), a CBD gummy, or a smoke shop, you will need to look outside of the OBEOD – its boundaries stretch for about two miles and cover the historic downtown area of Myrtle Beach.
You can still buy cigarettes or other tobacco products within the restricted zone, but you will find them in convenience stores, not smoke shops.
The stated reasons for the ban on smoke shops in Myrtle Beach (and a map of the affected area) are found in Section 1807.A and include statements that are, at best, fairly debatable, and, at worst, transparently false, including:
The City of Myrtle Beach is understandably concerned about how the beach is no longer seen as a “family-friendly” vacation destination, and they need to do something to improve the city’s image given the sharp rise in media coverage of violent crimes and murders in the city…
It looks a bit like the smoke shops are the scapegoat for the city’s inability to control our crime rates, doesn’t it? Can they do that?
According to the SC Supreme Court, yes, they can…
In Ani Creation, Inc. v. City of Myrtle Beach Board of Zoning Appeals, decided on April 19, 2023, the SC Supreme Court reviewed a host of constitutional challenges brought by affected businesses and concluded that the ordinance is constitutional:
Appellants are nine of the twenty-five affected stores located in the area, and each was issued a citation by the city’s zoning administrator for failing to comply with the zoning overlay ordinance. Following a complicated legal battle, appellants raised a host of constitutional challenges to the zoning overlay ordinance. However, the circuit court found the ordinance survived appellants’ veritable barrage. Appellants directly appealed that decision to this Court. We now hold that, under this Court’s long-standing precedent, the overlay ordinance did not impermissibly spot zone the city’s historic downtown area. We additionally find the overlay ordinance is a constitutional exercise of the city’s police powers. We therefore affirm the decision of the circuit court and uphold the validity of the ordinance.
The Court denied the businesses’ claims, finding that:
Zoning laws can have a profound impact on the operation of your business – in some cases, completely prohibiting categories of businesses from certain areas of the city.
If you are considering opening a business in Myrtle Beach, SC, and need assistance choosing the right business entity, drafting and filing your incorporation documents, negotiating vendor or real estate contracts, choosing a location for your business, or applying for a zoning variance, call your business law attorney on the Axelrod team at 843-258-4478 or complete our contact form for an initial consultation to find out how we can help.
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