Charleston County adopts public indoor smoking ban
Richard Ruth didnít bother coming to the Tuesday meeting where Charleston County Council gave final approval to a public indoor smoking ban in the unincorporated areas.
Where is smoking banned?
Isle of Palms
Unincorporated Charleston County (Oct. 4)
Where is it
Unincorporated Dorchester County
Unincorporated Berkeley County
The owner of Richardís Bar on U.S. Highway 17 previously had addressed council and asked it not to approve the ban, which he said will harm his business.
But on its final reading of the ordinance, the group approved the ban with a 7-1 vote. It goes in effect Oct. 4.
Council members Colleen Condon, Dickie Schweers, Henry Darby, Anna Johnson, Teddie Pryor, Joe Qualey and Herb Sass voted for the ban. Elliott Summey was opposed. Vic Rawl did not attend the meeting,
Ruth said he had set out two petitions for his customers, one for those opposed to the ban and another for those in favor of it. He had 600 signatures opposed and only 12 in favor of it, he said. But he knew council wouldnít listen.
He is going to talk to a lawyer to see if there is any way he can fight it, he said. If there isnít, he said, ďI guess Iíll have to ban smoking and put everybody out in the yard.Ē
Charleston County joins a growing list of local municipalities that have banned smoking in workplaces, including the city of Charleston and the town of Mount Pleasant.
Ruthís bar falls in what is known as a ďdoughnut hole,Ē a small area that lies in the unincorporated part of the county that is surrounded by the town of Mount Pleasant.
Smoking bans are spreading in Charleston County after Sullivanís Islandís first-in-the-state ban in 2006.
Neither Dorchester nor Berkeley counties ban smoking, although Dorchester County Council considered it last year. The town of Summerville, however, has banned indoor smoking in public places.
The trend is good news for Bill Settlemyer from the Smoke-free Lowcountry Coalition. He thinks County Council made a positive move for the health of the community, he said. He also said studies have shown that local smoking bans donít harm business in establishments that enforce them. ďSo case closed,Ē he said.
Darby originally championed the smoking ban. He said he supports a ban mostly because it will protect employees. People have to work to earn a living, he said, and itís unfair that some people have to put their health at risk to do that.
Materials provided to council members and the public before the meeting state that the ban would require employers to provide a smoke-free environment for all employees, which includes prohibiting smoking in all areas of workplaces.
It also requires written copies of the policy to be distributed to all employees and to be posted in highly visible locations.
It would allow certain exceptions, including permitting smoking in private residences and in some rooms in hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts.