Summerville could see a smoke free future

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A smoke free ordinance that would prohibit smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars is a step closer to being passed in Summerville.

Council members passed the first reading of the smoking ordinance at Wednesday's council meeting.

"The Smoke Free Lowcountry coalition and I have been working with some of the council members trying to get them to realize that it's not an employer's prerogative to put an employees health at risk," said councilman Mike Dawson.

In the smoking proposal, Dawson would like to fine violators $10 to $25 per incident.

The ordinance would also allow exceptions for existing cigar bars, tobacco stores and designated smoking rooms in hotels. Residents and business owners alike sounded off.

"What this is really about is the people of Summerville and what is right not just for health issues but all issues. It's not just about health it's also about business and economic survival," said one local business owner.

"We continue to allow restaurants to expose their employees to 50 cancer causing agents in smoke," said a resident in support of the smoking ban.

The plan for the ban was tabled seven months ago, but Wednesday there was only one vote of opposition. The vote of opposition came from Councilman Ricky Waring who believes the ban will have an adverse effect on the town's economy.

Some business owners agree with Waring.

"The problem is not just smoking, but the business owner's right to choose how he markets his business," a local business owner said.

Some residents feel Summerville should fall in line just as other communities across the state and nation have done with some type of smoke free ordinance.

"This leaves Summerville as a 'smoking oasis,' like a junkie looking for a fix, smokers know places to smoke and I don't want smokers converging on Summerville and turn us into the armpit of the region."

Nationally, 22 states have a law in effect that prohibits smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars.

The second and final reading of the smoke free ordinance is set for Jan. 12.

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