MOUNT PLEASANT — Town Council on Tuesday voted in favor of an indoor workplace smoking ban but shelved further consideration of the issue for months to come.
"It's bizarre. They simply stalled on this thing," Dan Carrigan, executive director of the Smoke-Free Action Network, said.
A proposed ordinance to regulate smoking in indoor workplaces had been before council twice before, and both times it was referred for further study. Mayor Harry Hallman and Mayor Pro-Tem Kruger Smith voted against the motion approved 7-2 Tuesday night.
The motion granted preliminary approval to the town smoking ordinance but shelved the ordinance until Jan. 2 or when the state Supreme Court considers the issue, whichever comes first.
Circuit Court Judge Deadra Jefferson in December upheld the Sullivan's Island ordinance, but in March, Circuit Judge John Few overturned a smoking ordinance passed by Greenville City Council.
Meanwhile Tuesday, a proposal to ban smoking in public places statewide was returned to a House panel. But anti-smoking advocates considered the move a win, even while acknowledging the bill is likely dead for the year. About a month remains before legislators adjourn until January.
"Hopefully, that means they'll strengthen the bill," Renee Martin, executive director of the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative, said. "It buys us time to continue educating legislators."
The legislation initially banned smoking in all of South Carolina's restaurants, bars and recreational facilities, but a House Judiciary subcommittee amended it last month to match a similar proposal in the Senate. The change allowed bar owners to get smoking permits from the state as long as businesses limit entry to those 18 and older. It also specifies that local governments could not pass their own, more strict smoking ordinances.
About 10 local governments in South Carolina have passed smoking bans over the past year.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711 or email@example.com.