People Ban: SC Summerville

South Carolina Summerville Update…

Dorchester County Council tabled Smoking law, signs tabled

February 8, 2011
By Bo Petersen, bpetersen@postandcourier.com
ST. GEORGE — Dorchester County Council not only tabled for a second time a law to ban workplace smoking but also tabled a motion to require smoking or no-smoking signs in those businesses.
Councilman David Chinnis had proposed the sign law as a compromise to the smoking ban, which has council divided. He derailed a vote on the smoking ban at a Monday meeting by asking to table it again after council members’ comments made it apparent it would not be approved.
The vote to table the smoking ban was 4-3, supported by Councilmen Jay Byars, Bill Hearn and George Bailey, who said along with Chinnis they would vote not to approve it.
The vote to table the sign law was unanimous.
Councilman Richard Rosebrock asked to table the sign posting law, “to give more thought to this,” he said. Councilman Willie Davis concurred, saying he didn’t want to force business owners to post the signs.
The moves disgruntled people in the crowded council chamber on both sides of the issue.
Council has been divided on the law since it was first proposed in January by Chairman Larry Hargett.
“Sometimes good-intentioned legislation has unintended consequences,” said Byars, citing businesses in Florida that failed after a similar law passed. Protecting businesses “is the right thing to do.”
Hargett spoke to people in the audience who opposed the law: “Where is the right for you as a smoker to smoke in my presence and make me breathe your smoke?”
The law would ban workplace smoking in all parts of the county that are outside a municipality.
Smoking bans are now in place in 12 Lowcountry municipalities after Summerville approved a ban in January. At least two Lowcountry municipalities have rejected bans. The county would be the first in the Charleston area to approve one.
The bans are being proposed to individual council members by representatives of anti-smoking activist groups that are going government-to- government to push for them.
At least one group uses automated “robo” phone calls to solicit support from residents. The groups and supporters turn out in numbers for the votes arguing for worker safety and health benefits. Less organized and usually smaller numbers of smoking supporters say it’s a property rights decision that ought to be left to the individual business.


Dorchester council puts off action on proposed law

January 5, 2011
By Bo Petersen, bpetersen@postandcourier.com

SUMMERVILLE — Businesses in Dorchester County won’t know until February whether workplace smoking is likely to be banned.

But County Council members’ sentiments on Tuesday suggest the prohibition won’t be approved.

A vote to ban workplace smoking had been scheduled Tuesday night but was delayed by the council, even though an apparent majority of council members were ready to oppose the regulation.

The vote for the delay was 6-1, with Councilman Willie Davis opposed.

Councilman George Bailey asked for the delay because he had just been given the proposed law and wanted more time to review it. But he made no bones how he felt.

‘Are we going to tell the people in Dorchester County you can’t go out in the sun because we have a fear of melanoma? Are we going to tell people you can’t eat a candy bar, can’t eat french fries because they’re bad for your health? When are we going to stop telling people what they can and can’t do with their lives?’ Bailey said.

Councilmen David Chinnis, Jay Byars and Bill Hearn also said they opposed the ban as an overreach of government, and unnecessary because businesses are turning smoke-free on their own.

Newly elected council Chairman Larry Hargett chided opposing members for not at least considering the law, which he had proposed for a ‘title only’ first reading to give the council an opportunity to review it.

Davis and Councilman Richard Rosebrock also supported the law.

The law would affect only the unincorporated parts of the county, not municipalities. The first-reading vote was put off until a Feb. 7 meeting.

The county would be the first in the Charleston area to have a smoking ban; at least five counties across the state have bans. Eleven Lowcountry municipalities have smoking bans; North Charleston and Folly Beach have rejected them.

Summerville will have a final reading Jan. 13 on a smoking ban, after tabling it last spring, then reviving it late last year.

A collection of anti-smoking activist groups has pushed for the local bans and a statewide ban that the S.C. Legislature hasn’t acted upon.

Representatives and supporters of the activist groups turn out for the votes, arguing for the health and worker-safety benefits. Less organized and usually smaller numbers of smoking supporters and business people turn out arguing that it’s a property-rights decision that should be left to individual businesses.

The meeting Tuesday was no different. Eleven people spoke in favor of the law; four spoke against it.

Ryan Burke, who was a customer at Upstairs at the Ice House in Summerville Tuesday afternoon, said when asked that it’s not fair to have alcohol sales go to voter referendum but smoking bans are decided by council votes.

The bans appear to hurt at least a few businesses and help others. Bert’s Bar closed after Sullivan’s Island passed a smoking ban; the owner blamed it partly on a drop in business after the ban. Nearby, Dunleavy’s Pub saw business pick up.

‘I think everybody has a fear it’s going to affect their business,’ said owner Mike Dunleavy, who supported the town’s ban. ‘But it’s only helped our business.’

A warning for freedom lovers to take action on this unannounced rearing of a ban in Summerville.? It seems, the only way these things pass in SC is if they are brought to a vote WITHOUT public announcement.

Summerville bans indoor smoking

December 9, 2010
By Bo Petersen bpetersen@postandcourier.com
SUMMERVILLE — A ban on indoor smoking passed first reading Wednesday, seven months after Town Council tabled the volatile ordinance. The 4-1 vote was more decisive than council’s sentiments.
Councilman Ricky Waring flatly opposed the law as overreaching and detrimental to business. Two other councilmen, Bob Jackson and Aaron Brown, voted in favor after hearing support from most of the constituents who spoke to them, but they had concerns with it. Their concerns echoed Waring’s. Councilman Walter Bailey was absent.
“People are tired of big government, and I agree with them. Now here we are getting down to telling businesses what to do. They’re struggling, and here we add one more thing (to the struggle),” Waring said.
The ban would need one more vote to become law.
The vote followed a public comment session during which more than a dozen people spoke.
Two of every three favored the ban, ranging from medical doctors to an 11-year-old who didn’t like the smell or how exposure to smoke left her brothers wheezing.
They supported the law based on health and aesthetic concerns. Others opposed it as a violation of property owners’ rights.
Banning smoking “may or may not affect our business,” said Bob Brittingham, who owns Montreux, a downtown restaurant, but he knows it won’t affect competitors outside town limits, he said.
He listed more than $140,000 per year in taxes and fees the restaurant pays, and listed its civic contributions. “We would like to retain control of the decision to allow or not allow smoking in our business,” he said.
The serious tone of the debate was broken by Summerville resident Joe Christie, who said that with surrounding towns passing similar laws, “that leaves Summerville as a smoker’s oasis. I don’t want smokers coming into Summerville and turning us into the armpit of the region.”
The proposed law would fine violators and establishment owners between $10 and $25 per incident. It would allow exceptions, such as private residences and tobacco stores. It “grandfathers” existing cigar bars.
Similar laws have been passed in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island and Ravenel, among other communities in the state.
Council tabled the proposed law in May after a similar comment session, when council members said then they had concerns it was overreaching.
The ban has been pushed by two anti-smoking groups, the Smoke Free Lowcountry Coalition and the South Carolina chapter of the African American Tobacco Control Network.


Summerville council tables smoking ban

By Bo Petersen,The Post and Courier
May 13, 2010

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.

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