Summerville council tables smoking ban

Summerville has proposed an indoor smoking ban.

SUMMERVILLE -- A workplace smoking ban was tabled Wednesday, with Town Council as divided as the audience that filled the chambers.

But more council members said they had concerns that the proposed ordinance was overreaching.

The vote was 5-1 to table for further study, with Councilman Mike Dawson voting no. Dawson proposed the law.

To fervent applause from both sides, 22 people spoke for or against the ban. They ranged from bar owners and individual rights proponents to health professionals, a cancer survivor and an asthma sufferer.

A hush came over the room when the cancer survivor spoke.

A few more spoke against the ban than for it.

"Do not take away the businessman's right to conduct his business," said cigar smoker Ed Bowles.

"Give us a decent quality of life at our jobs. That's all we're asking," said musician Allison Tysinger.

The indoor smoking ban was prompted by a push from two anti-smoking groups, the Smoke Free Lowcountry Coalition and the South Carolina chapter of African American Tobacco Control.

Martha Dunlap and Dianne Wilson, representatives of the respective groups, addressed the council on the dangers of smoking and its impact on workers.

The groups were among the forces that pushed to get similar laws passed in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island and Ravenel.

The proposed law would fine violators between $25 and $100 and establishment operators between $10 and $25. It would allow exceptions, such as private residences, and "grandfather" cigar bars, tobacco stores and designated "smoking rooms" in hotels.