SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Smoke Free Lowcountry Coalition and the South Carolina African American Tobacco Control Network are working to ensure that Summerville workers have the same protection from secondhand smoke exposure on the job.
Thirty-seven South Carolina communities have passed smoke-free ordinances to date.
According to the group, if the smoke-free ordinance in Summerville passes, it will bring the total to 38 municipalities and cover more than 1.4 million South Carolinians.
Locally, Charleston, Sullivan's Island, Mt. Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Hollywood and Ravenel are covered by smoke-free laws.
"The proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars," said Dianne Wilson, Executive Director of SCAATCN.
Currently, 74.1 percent of Americans are covered by some kind of smoke-free workplace ordinance. There are 3,173 municipalities that have passed laws that restrict where smoking is allowed, and 22 states have a law in effect that prohibits smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars.
"We are grateful to our champion Summerville Councilman Mike Dawson for addressing this major public health problem," said Martha Dunlap, SFC President.
"I do not believe it is an employer's right to put his employee's health at risk, neither do I think an employee should have to choose between their health and their job," Dawson said. "Any other business practice that involves toxic substances or dangerous health conditions must make accommodations to protect their employees. This is no different."
Health officials have blamed secondhand smoke for approximately 45,000 deaths each year among adult nonsmokers in the United States1, and for more than 46,000 heart disease deaths yearly.
The first reading of the ordinance will take place at Summerville Town Hallon Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m., during a town council meeting. A second and final reading is slated to take place Wednesday, Jan. 12.
The non-profit Smoke Free Lowcountry Coalition is comprised of various organizations including the American Cancer Society, The America Lung Association, SCDHEC and concerned individuals dedicated to reducing the toll of tobacco use in the tri-county area, providing public awareness and education and effecting policy change.