Summerville smoking ban proposed

Smoking now will cost more in South Carolina.

Mic Smith

SUMMERVILLE--Lighting up soon might be a no-no in most indoor places in town, prompted by a push from two anti-smoking groups that helped snuff out smoking in a handful of nearby Lowcountry municipalities.

Town staff members also are working on adding no-smoking rules to park regulations.

Town Council is expected to give tentative approval to the proposed indoor smoking regulation Wednesday.

"It's all well and good to say, 'It ought to be a property owner's choice.' But it's more about the employee situation. The employee doesn't have that freedom to choose," said Councilman Mike Dawson, who proposed the law.

"The nasty soup of stuff in cigarettes, if those toxins were loose in the atmosphere, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be all over it."

Dianne Wilson of the South Carolina chapter of African American Tobacco Control said her group and the Smoke Free Lowcountry Coalition asked for the regulation in response to a number of people in town who signed up to support the effort.

The groups earlier pushed for no-smoking laws in other cities, and Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island and Ravenel have approved such regulations.

The group canvassed Summerville council members and is optimistic the votes are there for a ban.

But at least one local business owner plans to be at the meeting to oppose it.

"That's the worst news ever for me," said Bruce Woody, owner of Upstairs at the Ice House in downtown Summerville. Only a handful of bars and restaurants operate in town, he said. "Every bar and restaurant around our town limits, all of them still will be smoking. The people who do smoke aren't going to come into town."

He has talked with employees about turning the tavern into a no-smoking establishment but said employees are worried about keeping their jobs, not about smoking.

"We understand there are smokers and they have certain rights. It just needs to be taken outside, so the toxins are out of the way. We've proven time and time again it has not hurt businesses," Wilson said.

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