Berkeley County rejects smoke-free proposal for second time

  • Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013 9:19 p.m., Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 10:04 p.m.

A Berkeley County Council committee briefly considered a ban on smoking in public places and places of employment before voting the proposal down for the second time Monday.

Councilman Steve Davis, chairman of the facilities and code enforcement committee, added the issue to the agenda for a committee meeting. When it was brought up, Councilman Caldwell Pinckney made a motion to approve it, but the proposal nearly died for lack of a second.

“Government at its finest,” Pinckney said, as council members sat in silence.

“I don’t know why people are scared to discuss something,” Davis said. “That’s a cowardly approach by council members. It’s not saying that you support it or are in favor, but not even to have a discussion is really, really disheartening.”

He went on to talk about an uncle who smoked and had emphysema.

“It’s a sad commentary ... when parties fail to discuss an issue,” he said. “I will continue to put this on my agenda as long as I’m on County Council.”

At that point, Councilman Tim Callanan seconded the motion for purposes of discussion.

After a brief presentation from the Lowcountry Smokefree Coalition, the motion failed 4-2 with only Davis and Pinckney supporting it. Callanan, Ken Gunn, Cathy Davis and Phillip Farley voted against it. Dennis Fish was absent and Jack Schurlknight left before the vote.

The proposal also failed to garner support when it was first brought up in committee in July, and Davis vowed then to bring it up again.

Currently, 56 towns and counties in the state have smoking bans, including Charleston County, the city of Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Isle of Palms and Goose Creek.

After the meeting, Callanan said he did not support the proposal because the county does not have a business license fee, making a ban “impossible” to enforce.

“We’d be implementing a law with no means by which we can enforce it, nor do we have the manpower of code enforcement officers to actually go about doing this.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.

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