SC Alert: Upcoming State Primaries – see who the antis are and take action!
SmokerPower.info now features a South Carolina State House and Senate Election call to action – find out who’s running, who’s an anti and who isn’t, and vote accordingly, or, for that matter, file for a seat and run yourself.
The South Carolina Information Page
South Carolina Elections Page
Read More: SC State Update Page 3
Lancaster County plans for smoking ban possibility
August 21, 2010
By Jenny Overman
INDIAN LAND — Indian Land’s representative on the Lancaster County Council, Larry McCullough, along with several other council members, has been selected for a committee that will examine the possibility of a smoking ban for county businesses.
The committee was discussed at an Indian Land Action Council meeting this week.
No proposal has been made, McCullough stressed, but county officials wanted to be prepared in the event that such a proposal is suggested. Several surrounding counties and cities, including Fort Mill and York County, have such bans, he pointed out, and county officials feel that the issue might be raised in Lancaster County sometime in the future.
Right now, McCullough said, he doesn’t have an opinion on whether or not Lancaster County should institute a smoking ban. The committee is just gathering information about neighboring policies.
“I’m curious about it,” McCullough said. “And I’m doing my homework.”
The Town of Fort Mill instituted a ban, but allows an exemption for private organizations such as the VFW. York County’s ban has no such exemption, but the county council recently held a first reading on one.
McMaster opposes Rex’s cigarettes plan
Feb. 09, 2010
By JOHN O’CONNOR
A leading Republican candidate for governor said Monday he would not support raising South Carolina’s cigarette tax – the nation’s lowest – under any conditions.
Attorney General Henry McMaster, spurred by a weekend of back-and-forth discussion on the issue with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Rex, said Monday he would not support raising the tax, spokesman Rob Godfrey said.
Rex has proposed raising the tax by $1.24 a pack to the national average, using the more than $200 million raised to pay for health care and to avoid requiring teachers to take a week of unpaid leave.
The two men have agreed to debate the issue.
The cigarette tax is an issue in the governor’s race. Lawmakers passed a tax hike in 2008 only to have it vetoed by Republican Gov. Mark Sanford. Lawmakers fell short of the two-thirds support needed to override that veto.
About three-quarters of state residents support raising the tax to $1 a pack, from its current 7 cents a pack, according to a 2008 survey by the Republican-leaning polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. The poll was conducted for the S.C. Tobacco Collaborative, a coalition of nonprofit and public health groups that support raising the cigarette tax to cut smoking rates.
Sanford has said he would support a cigarette tax increase if it included an equal tax cut somewhere else in the budget. But Godfrey said McMaster opposes any cigarette tax increase.
“Henry McMaster is not raising taxes under any circumstances,” Godfrey said, noting McMaster had signed a national anti-tax pledge. “It’s a good way to make a bad economy worse.”
Rex spokesman Zeke Stokes said raising the cigarette tax could provide a boost to the state’s health care industry, particularly rural hospitals struggling to stay open amid state budget cuts.
The federal government would match every dollar the state puts into health care with up to four dollars, Stokes said.
“We’re leaving a lot of money on the table,” Stokes said, estimating the federal match at from $500 million to $700 million. “An infusion of cash could help (the health care industry). Jobs are a huge, huge part of this.”
In a news release Saturday, Rex noted McMaster has accepted $10,500 in campaign contributions from two tobacco companies.
McMaster thinks the cigarette tax debate points out a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats, his spokesman said.
“Dr. Rex wants to raise taxes to fund government spending,” Godfrey said. “Henry McMaster wants to cut taxes to create prosperity.”
McMaster has said comprehensive tax reform is a key part of improving the state’s economy, but Godfrey said the no-tax pledge applies to tax reform as well. That means tax reform could not include rescinding any of the state’s sales tax exemptions – for twine, newsprint, certain prescription drugs and other items. Those exemptions are worth $2.7 billion a year, according to the Board of Economic Advisers.
Lawmakers have asked a state panel to study the state’s tax code and suggest ways to make the system fairer and more stable. Those recommendations are expected later this year.
Stokes said Rex is not proposing to raise property, income or business taxes. He also criticized McMaster, saying he has provided no specifics for his jobs plan.
“Calling us liberals is not an economic plan,” Stokes said. “Saying we have to cut taxes to create jobs is not an economic plan.”
Reach O’Connor at (803) 771-8358.
Judge: Local courts to consider smoking violations break law
By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press
COLUMBIA — A memo from South Carolina’s top judge said any courts created to consider violations of local ordinances like smoking bans are illegal under the state’s Constitution, an edict that has some municipal officials wondering how they should deal with violators.
“The courts are purportedly established for the purpose of hearing smoking infractions, as well as various other local ordinance violations,” Chief Justice Jean Toal wrote in the one-paragraph memo sent Monday to municipal administrators and judges throughout the state. “The creation of these courts is repugnant to the long-standing concept of the state uniform judicial system.”
Instead, Toal wrote, infractions of local ordinances – like bans on smoking in public places – should be heard by magistrate and municipal courts, bodies she said are constitutional.
Smoking bans have sprung up across the state since last year, when Toal’s court ruled that cities and towns have the power to ban indoor smoking in public places. Four South Carolina counties and 23 municipalities have passed smoking bans, and others are being debated, according to the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative, an anti-smoking group.
Two months later, the justices perplexed some local officials in a unanimous ruling about smoking enforcement on Sullivan’s Island, which in May 2006 became the first South Carolina town to pass a smoking ban. The court ruled the town can ban the practice inside public places but can’t make violating the smoking ban a crime, and can’t jail people who disobey.
“I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do, and we’re going to have to reconcile the chief justice’s memo with that same court’s previous ruling,” Brad Cunningham, municipal attorney for Lexington, which passed a ban on public smoking last year, said Thursday. “I have no idea.”
Cunningham isn’t alone. Andy Benke, town administrator in Sullivan’s Island, says attorneys there are reviewing the memo, and the state’s municipal association says its members are already asking questions.
“We’re going to try to talk through it and make sure our folks are in line with what needs to be done,” says Warren Harley, governmental affairs liaison for the Municipal Association of South Carolina. “We want to make sure that whatever we do is right.”
Not all of those areas have created separate systems to deal with infractions. Several municipalities with smoking bans, such as Hilton Head Island, say they’ve dealt with violations in municipal court, while others like North Augusta haven’t had a single violation.
“The administrative hearing courts aren’t solving any problem,” says Will Cook, a professor of constitutional law at the Charleston School of Law. “They’re creating more problems. … I think it would be foolish for a local government to move forward with the existing system and go through needless litigation over the issue.”
Cook is referring to Myrtle Beach, where the city is being sued over its administrative hearing court by the promoter of a motorcycle rally who says the city shouldn’t be allowed to enforce a requirement that all riders wear helmets — a requirement under city ordinance, but not state law.
On Thursday, City Manager Tom Leath said the Myrtle Beach City Council is still studying how best to comply with Toal’s order.
For now, municipal leaders say they are going to work both with each other and the Supreme Court to determine how best to proceed with local ordinance violations.
“This was not on our radar,” Harley says. “We’re just confused at this point.”
Smoking ban has become about property rights
Mar 4, 2009
I have been keeping up with the pro and con letters to the editor and several articles printed in The Item concerning the city ban on smoking. Our fair town has decided that freedom from smoke outweighs freedom to smoke. Now I don’t have a big problem with that. Really, I don’t. But the city administration also decided one can no longer smoke in bars or restaurants. That makes this no longer about smoking but about individual property rights. I’m thinking these establishments are privately owned.
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness “ is one of the most famous phrases in the United States Declaration of Independence. These three aspects are listed among the “inalienable rights” of man and are based on the writings of the English philosopher John Locke.
And the courts have ruled that one must be secure in their property and economic vocation for the sake of happiness (Butchers’ U nion Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746). Even though smoking bans have been upheld in state supreme courts, including South Carolina’s, it would seem to me they may not hold up in federal court as they may be seen to interfere with private business owners’ ability to conduct business as they see fit.
One might have thought common sense would prevail. If one does not want to be around smoke don’t go where people are smoking. We all have choices to make and it’s a matter of personal responsibility to live with the consequences of those choices. But in our present society, where people feel entitled to have their will imposed on others through the force of law, appealing to common sense and personal responsibility may be too much to ask. And government, on any level, has never seen a law or ordnance it doesn’t like. Don’t believe me? How many laws or ordinances do you recall being repealed lately? Soooo, let’s ban something. Smoking today, the evil du jour tomorrow. Maybe “all you can eat dinners” to help you overweight folks out there.
Dave LePage wrote (Letter to the Editor 2/28/09) that local bars and restuarants wouldn’t lose money as there would be no smoking in all of these businesses. I assume he knows nothing of the “private” resturants and bars in town that will not be affected , such as Shuckers or Savannah Break. My guess is a lot of smokers’ business will now head to these establishments where one may join for around $5. He, also, makes another eroneous statement. Smokers can go outside to smoke but diners can not go outside to eat. Why not? Do they have some right that smokers do not to stay indoors? He then gives smokers his permission to smoke. Thank you Mr. LePage. And he further states that he and other non-smokers have the right to not breath smoke-filled air. I don’t know of any such “right” but I do agree one should not have to breath smoke if one chooses not to. As I stated above, if one does not want to breath other’s smoke they should choose to not go places where the propriator clearly wants his patrons to be able to
smoke if they so choose. There are plenty of places in town that have made their own choice to be smoke-free.
At least Scott Alfred understands it was him that invested the money to open a business (Legacies), a business that affords his patrons a place to go for friendship, music, sports and some really good food. Also, a business that pays taxes and provides quite a few jobs. I’m proud of Scott for being willing to stand up for his property rights. I’m surprised at Matt Walters. After all, his bar, Tavern on Main, is licensed as a cigar bar. He must have never read Henry David Thoreau’s essay, Civil Disobedience.
In the last several years I’ve enjoyed Sumter@Six
, The Comedy House, Friday Night At The Plaza. and other downtown events in Sumter. The Tavern on Main can be a fun place. I’ll miss them all.
Easley joins Greenville in restricting smoking
Law now effective at city events
By Julie Howle • STAFF WRITER
November 11, 2008
EASLEY — Easley became the latest Upstate city on Monday to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other enclosed areas.
City Council voted 5-2 to immediately begin enforcing the ban at city-sponsored events. The ban will go into effect elsewhere on New Year’s Day.
Also on a 5-2 vote, the council turned back a request to exempt pool halls.
The ban comes two years after Greenville enacted a similar ban and more than seven months after the city won a state Supreme Court case that cleared the way to enforce it.
In Easley, smoking will be prohibited in all enclosed public places within the city and within 10 feet of any area where smoking is banned.
Exempt areas include private residences, except when used as a licensed child, health or adult daycare facility; designated smoking rooms in hotels and motels; outdoor areas of places of employment, retail tobacco stores and private clubs.
South Carolina Elections
– Lets Get Rid of the Nannies –
The South Carolina Legislature, The Senate and The House, currently has a shaky membership – straddling the sway line between respect for individual liberties and inclination against such freedoms, particularly against the freedom of tobacco use that ranges from disrespect to sheer hatred. For most of the two year cycle between elections, the best we can do is call or write them and hope they listen.
We are, however, at the golden time of this two year cycle where we can identify those who hate us and either run against them for office or vote against them, both in the Primaries and the General Election. (In fact, in this year of a four year cycle, both the entire House and Senate are up for re-election.) This page will help us do so.Read More
! A l e r t !
Easley, SC – Last Warning on Ban Threat
If any of you readers living in the city of Easley are at all interested in protecting your freedoms, this is your last chance to take action – you have less than one month to stop Easley from becoming another poster child for the nanny state and faithful supporter of ridiculous junk science.
With only one day’s warning by the Greenville Nanny, The city of Easley held the first reading of their proposed smoking ban on Monday October 13th (the Greenville News published a story on October 12th). The ban, as published on the City of Easley website, passed by a narrow 4-3 vote (an exemption to pool halls dead-locked; what that means, I don’t know). The Greenville Nanny published this result in a small blurb in Tuesday’s paper, NOT telling who voted for or against (typical).Read More
! A l e r t !
York County, SC – Ban Threat!
This ban mirrors the draconian ban implemented in the City of Greenville – which bans smoking almost anywhere indoors, including bars and restaurants, and, presumably, far from doorways – which would make many bar and restaurant patios banned as well.Read More
By the Southern Avenger
The invisible damage done – to both property and principle
– by Charleston, South Carolina’s smoking ban.
S.C. ends funding for anti-smoking
The state had spent $2 million on prevention and cessation programs.
Aug. 30, 2008
COLUMBIA Anti-smoking advocates fear more teenagers will begin the habit in South Carolina and fewer adults will quit now that prevention programs are getting no state money.
For the past two years, South Carolina has spent $2 million on smoking cessation and prevention. At least a half-dozen states have reduced funding for such programs in the economic downturn, but South Carolina was the only one to eliminate it this year.
South Carolina and Connecticut are the only two states that spend nothing on prevention, according to the national Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Before getting the money in 2006-07, S.C. spent nothing for several years.
Since 1999, the youth smoking rate in South Carolina has dropped by half, from 36 percent to 18 percent. The teen movement Rage Against the Haze has helped teens educate their peers on the dangers of tobacco, according to anti-smoking groups.
Now the program is unfunded and is using leftover money on limited training sessions and events.
The pro-life fanatics who drive smoking bans
Aborting Freedom of Choice
APRIL 23, 2008
By Jack Hunter
As with my column two weeks ago on the wisdom of smoking bans, my suggestion that private property rights and freedom of choice should be respected elicits a visceral reaction from hard-core smoking-ban proponents who believe no issue takes precedent over the public’s “right” to breathe clean air. Like die-hard pro-lifers — the kind who stand on street corners with signs featuring aborted fetuses — there’s no talking to these people as they can’t even concede that there’s room for debate. They have their facts, and they’re sticking to them.
And what are those facts? Basically, that secondhand smoke kills people, as evidenced by former Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s 2006 report. From a common-sense perspective, Carmona’s contention that exposure to secondhand smoke is as dangerous as directly inhaling 20 cigarettes a day doesn’t really make sense, and yet he felt his evidence was conclusive enough to declare that the “debate is over” on the issue.
Likewise, common sense supporters of abortion rights have a hard time wrapping their heads around the notion that a woman pregnant for just a few weeks is carrying an actual human being. But for pro-lifers, there is no debate, and some even have the science to prove it. Writes scientist John F. Cogan, “I have always been pro-life as a matter of intuition. However, as I gradually built up the scientific data, its cumulative impact reinforced my gut feeling that the unborn child really is a human being from the moment of its conception.” Cogan’s website is dedicated to pro-life-oriented science and has been endorsed by multiple doctors and fellow scientists.
Pro-choice progressives, many of whom are nearly hysterical in their support for smoking bans, wouldn’t even give a pro-lifer like Cogan the time of day — science or no science — and yet they accuse those opposed to smoking bans of being hopelessly backward for ignoring scientific “facts.” If Cogan were appointed U.S. Surgeon General and declared that all abortion was murder — would the debate be over, as many insist it is with secondhand smoke? Is it worth considering that even science can be politically driven?
Smoking ban proponents have used their favorite scientific facts to run roughshod over freedom of choice in the name of protecting the public at large. If science determined that life begins at conception (as scientists like Cogan already claim), then should a woman’s right to choose end? And if not, by what moral rationale is it OK to be “pro-choice” on abortion, but not smoking?
Conservative philosopher Russell Kirk believed that the definition of a fanatic is someone who seizes upon a slice of truth, or at least perceived truth, and harps on it incessantly. Such people aren’t necessarily wrong, but they become so obsessed with one aspect of an argument that they can’t see anything else.
Being exposed to secondhand smoke is undeniably unhealthy, but to say that what is likely a minor or even negligible health risk should take total precedent over something as serious as property rights or any other consideration is an inherently fanatical view. Saying that property rights simply don’t matter is the same as saying the right of a woman to control her own body doesn’t matter.
I know many people who like the smoking ban personally, but disagree with it politically. And I know folks who state bluntly “I don’t like being around smoke and am glad there’s a ban.” Fine. At least they’re honest. But the fanatics, who suffer from the illusion that they are doing the general public an invaluable service by protecting them from secondhand smoke, tend to be insistent to the point of insanity, coming off as benevolent buffoons, impervious to any and all reason.
On issues like abortion and secondhand smoke, I believe there are valid points to be made by both sides of each argument. But the importance of being pro-life, whether that means protecting unborn children or non-smokers, does not automatically discount the importance of being pro-choice, whether that means protecting personal privacy or property. The most significant difference between banning smoking and banning abortion is that banning smoking is more popular and politically-correct.
The quality of both life and liberty has always been indispensable to the health of our republic, and both suffer when fanatics of any stripe are given carte blanche to do their damage. That certain bad policies remain popular is no justification. And that a certain brand of fanaticism is more fashionable should never make it more acceptable.
APRIL 9, 2008:
The invisible damage done by Charleston’s smoking ban
By Jack Hunter
The first time I heard about the proposed smoking ban in Charleston I was working on a construction site in Goose Creek alongside a block mason, whose continuous brick cutting filled the air, my nostrils, and my lungs with a thick cloud of concrete dust. I fetched a mask, which helped a little, as I continued to listen to the man on the radio insist that an indoor smoking ban was necessary to protect workers and customers. It wasn’t a pleasant job, and it probably wasn’t healthy, but I agreed to do the job at hand, hazards and all.
Kevin Young has been a bartender at A.C.’s Bar & Grill on King Street for over a decade. He is a non-smoker who has worked in a smoking environment for most of his adult life, until now. Since the smoking ban went into effect, Young has consistently worked eight hours longer than he used to each week and earns roughly $200 dollars less each week. Visiting my friend Kevin at work in the early evening is much easier these days, because the ban has literally cut his bread-and-butter happy-hour shift in half. He says, “Bring back the smokers.”
His boss agrees. Says A.C.’s owner Jim Curley, “Profits in 2007 were down 80 percent compared to 2006, and that’s with the smoking ban being in effect for only half a year.” Jim admits there are other factors for the loss, but the smoking ban is unquestionably the “primary factor.”
That customers or employees might be exposed to secondhand smoke as a result of their personal decision to patronize or work at a place where smoking is allowed should seem like a trivial consideration when compared to the much more serious financial risk — and loss — suffered by bartenders and bar owners. After all, Jim’s family depends on the success of his bar, and Kevin’s livelihood depends on the success of A.C.’s. By what rationale should the government (particularly local officials who would probably never frequent places like A.C.’s anyway) have the right to harm the way these men earn a living by restricting the use of a legal product?
The only difference between my experience with concrete dust on a construction site and secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants is that most people don’t frequent construction sites. Most people go to bars and restaurants, and they hate smoke — on their clothes, in their hair, or in their personal space. The Charleston smoking ban, and indeed all smoking bans, are first and foremost a reflection of popular prejudice, even though there’s a lot of chatter about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Frankly speaking, more than a few experts agree that former Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s contention that exposure to secondhand smoke is as damaging as inhaling a pack-a-day ranks right up there with President Bush’s assertion that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.
The latest decision by the state Supreme Court to uphold local smoking bans does not end debate on the real issue at hand — the power and scope of government. Having a “smoke-free Lowcountry” certainly doesn’t come free for everyone, as some employees and business owners continue to pay the price in lost wages and lost profits simply to satisfy the prejudice of the non-smoking majority.
While I do enjoy cigars, I can’t stand being around ashtrays while I’m eating and quickly become aggravated by friends who smoke, but I would never think of using the power of government to pacify my anti-smoking prejudices — damaging individual liberty, property rights, and livelihoods in the process — just so that I might be a bit more comfortable.
As I write this commentary, I’ve actually been sitting in A.C.’s, simultaneously gabbing with Kevin behind the bar who has had only one other customer for the last hour — and that customer just went outside to smoke. It wouldn’t have bothered Kevin or me in the least if he had remained in the bar to enjoy his cigarette, but the government has already made that decision for us. As a grown man, it’s a bit offensive. As an American, it’s a little disheartening. And as a citizen, it’s ridiculous.
There was a time in this country when most Americans would have agreed, even those who hated smoking, believing that government should have reasonable limits. But in an increasingly unreasonable world, such arbitrary power promises to become increasingly limitless, undermining and overtaking even the most basic American notions of property and principle.
In the end, it seems America’s worst habit has become the mass acceptance of bad government in the name of good intentions — the proverbial path to hell.
High court upholds local smoking bans
By Prentiss Findlay, Schuyler Kropf, The Post and Courier
April 1, 2008
Cities and towns can ban indoor smoking in public places, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday in a decision cheered by Charleston, Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant officials.
City enforcing smoking ban again
By Tim Smith • CAPITAL BUREAU • April 1, 2008
COLUMBIA — The state Supreme Court on Monday upheld Greenville’s smoking ban in bars and restaurants, reversing a judge’s order and offering encouragement to other local governments that passed similar ordinances.
Another Example from South Carolina of How you should NOT Sue over Smoking Bans!
April 1, 2008
by Marc S. Moisa
According to local news articles on the March 31st SC Supreme Court ruling, the Supreme Court’s reasoning, aside from the usual “health trumps freedom”, is that the language in question is present in a section of law dealing largely with minors and tobacco (sections -500 to 503).
“Supporters of the ordinance argued the section dealt only with the distribution of tobacco to minors. The justices agreed, ruling that Few had erred in finding that the section applied to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act instead of just the law dealing with minors.”
Here’s the language:
SECTION 16-17-504. Implementation; local laws.
(A) Sections 16-17-500, 16-17-502, and 16-17-503 must be implemented in
an equitable and uniform manner throughout the State and enforced to
ensure the eligibility for and receipt of federal funds or grants the
State receives or may receive relating to the sections. Any laws,
ordinances, or rules enacted pertaining to tobacco products may not
supersede state law or regulation. Nothing herein shall affect the right
of any person having ownership or otherwise controlling private property
to allow or prohibit the use of tobacco products on such property.
(B) Smoking ordinances in effect before the effective date of this act
are exempt from the requirements of subsection (A).
Can anyone explain how the bolded text above has any applicability to minors and tobacco? When was the last time a minor owned or controlled private property? Sounds like it is specifically addressing adult smoking regulation on private property to me! Section B above actually refers to “Smoking Ordinances”, not minors and tobacco.
If the plaintiffs had addressed the ETS fraud, perhaps the justices would’ve landed on the side of caution and upheld private property freedom. Instead, they used the health aspect as a justification for their ignorance of the above law, “The city claims that the ordinance is a proper exercise of municipal power because it seeks to protect citizens from secondhand smoke,” Justice John Waller wrote. “We agree. … While the state has legislated restrictions on smoking in certain areas, a civil ordinance which adds areas does not in any way conflict with state law.” WELL, the first sentence of the bold excerpt of state law says exactly the opposite.
Can I please say it again: If you don’t dispel the ETS threat fraud in a lawsuit, you will lose – even if the law is plainly on your side!!!!
Marc S. Moisa
The SC Supreme Court of Retards
Another example of how NOT to sue
April 1, 2008
Just when you think the actions of a court of law couldn’t possibly make you any more angry or nauseated, along comes the retarded fools of South Carolina’s Supreme Court. I swear to all that might be holy, they are either patently stupid or bought and paid for. I, of course, refer to their recent ruling that it’s okay for local governments to supersede state law on smoking laws.
Legislature right to hold off on smoking banGreenville News – Greenville,SC,USA
Circuit Court Judge John Few last year struck down Greenville’s smoking ban after ruling that the Legislature had not given local government the ability to …
Update on Statewide action
March 25, 2008
South Carolinians might be saved for one more year against statewide nanny control on private property. Want to stop it from happening next year and in the future?
Go to http://www.smokerpower.info/SC-Primaries2008.html and see who is an anti and vote or run against them.
This issue will NOT go away until those in office who refuse to mind their own businesses are ousted from office! Filing for office ends This Sunday.
Statewide smoking ban stalls, heads back to subcommittee
By Tim Smith • STAFF WRITER • March 25, 2008
No Decision In Columbia On A Possible Statewide Smoking Ban
Katie Crawford, Live 5 News
While the State Supreme Court decides where it stands on local smoking bans, the State House Judiciary Committee met today in Columbia to take up the issue. They voted to send the amendment that would create a statewide smoking ban back to a sub-committee for further review. There’s no word on when any changes could actually take place.
Statewide smoking ban again debated
By Yvonne Wenger, The Post and Courier
January 15, 2008
COLUMBIA — The battle over where smokers can light up will take another turn today when a panel of lawmakers decides whether to advance a statewide ban, which could weaken laws already in place in Charleston and elsewhere.
Forces are clashing on the controversial topic, and how the S.C. House Judiciary Committee meeting will play out has a lot to do with who shows up and who speaks up.
Meanwhile, the state holds its breath as the S.C. Supreme Court decides whether local governments are able to pass their own bans. The committee could decide to wait to take statewide action until after the court rules.
If passed, the statewide ban would topple 11 local no-smoking laws, including those in Charleston, Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant, and prevent local regulations from being any more restrictive than the state rules.
The committee also will consider whether to allow smoking in specialty tobacco stores, cigar bars and private clubs. As drafted, the smoking ban bill would permit smoking in bars with enclosed sections that have separate ventilation systems or in free-standing bars that don’t let children enter.
Many issues, though, would have to be sorted out by the committee, such as how to handle bars that serve food and restaurants that serve alcohol.
As written now, neither of the bills up for consideration would stop people from smoking at home or in hotel rooms designated for smoking.
Also on the table when the Judiciary Committee convenes is a bill that seeks to stop people from smoking in cars passengering children 10 and younger.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, said Monday that he has an open mind. He is one of three local members on the 25-member committee.
Although Stavrinakis is leaning toward voting down the bills, he said he is at odds over the right of counties and municipalities to govern locally and passing a uniform state law. In the balance hangs protecting the health of state residents and supporting personal freedoms.
“I can’t say I’ve made up my mind,” he said.
The other two local committee members, Reps. Seth Whipper, D-North Charleston, and Ben Hagood, R-Sullivan’s Island, could not be reached for comment.
Dan Carrigan, executive director of Charleston-based Smoke-Free Action Network, said the statewide ban is being masqueraded as an anti-smoking law when in reality it is friendly to the tobacco industry by allowing people to smoke in more places than local government bans currently allow.
“This is not some grand solution that these guys just thought up — it is a sell-out,” he said.
Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, said it is no such thing.
“I think anything we could do to save lives we should do,” he said.
Rutherford said the legislation is not being pushed by the tobacco industry. He said it is an attempt to work out a compromise to get a minimum level of standards in place throughout the state.
“Smoking in public places is killing people,” he said.
Last year, the committee failed to take action on both the bills during a May meeting that died for lack of a quorum as members trickled out the door. If approved today, the next stop for the bills would be the House floor.
State Lawmakers Delay Vote on State Smoking Ban
Also reject effort to eliminate local smoking restrictions
Jan 15, 2008
By Robert Kittle
A South Carolina House committee Tuesday delayed a vote on a bill to ban smoking in restaurants and bars across the state, opting to wait until after the state Supreme Court issues a ruling in a Greenville case. The justices heard arguments last week about whether local bans like one in Greenville are legal because they’re stricter than state law. Greenville passed a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places.
The House Judiciary committee also rejected an attempt to wipe out local bans like Greenville’s and one passed Monday night in Clemson, which bans smoking in public places.
Oddly enough, the attempt to eliminate local restrictions was proposed by Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, who’s the sponsor of a bill to ban smoking in restaurants and bars statewide.
“Not only am I in favor of it (banning smoking in those places), I’m also in favor of all the local bans. But I recognize politics as it is, and this is the state legislature and they’re still beholden to tobacco politics, and still not wanting to ban people smoking in restaurants even though they know it’s dangerous and it kills people,” Rutherford says.
He says the amendment to eliminate local bans was a compromise designed to get the bill out of committee and onto the House floor, where the local bans could be reinstated.
But the committee voted down his amendment and sent the bill back to subcommittee, where it’s likely to stay until the Supreme Court rules in the Greenville case.
Lisa Turner, director of advocacy for the American Heart Association, says even though a vote on the entire bill was delayed, smoke-free advocates are glad the local bans were not eliminated.
“We were able to fight off attempts to take local control away from communities across South Carolina who’ve already spoken on this issue, that they want to protect themselves and their citizens from second-hand smoke,” she says.
House Judiciary Committee To Consider Eliminating Smoke-Free Ordinances
January 14, 2008
From Live 5 News
The House Judiciary Committee will consider an amendment that would eliminate all 11 local smoke-free ordinances in South Carolina.
The action comes less than a week after the South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments over the City of Greenville’s anti-smoking law.
Many states have recently overturned pre-emptive laws and returned control of smoke-free laws to local governments.
The state House Judiciary Committee will consider its proposed bill Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The bill would stop local communities from passing their own no smoking laws.
Meantime, Monday night, the City of Clemson could become the 12th community to go smoke-free as Clemson town leaders vote on a second reading.
“The South Carolina Supreme court is to hear the first case of many challenging local and county smoking bans on January 9th. The challenge is preemption of such bans by state law. I expect the Supreme court to rule in favor of the businesses, as the language in state law is quite clear.
“No one knows when the final decision will occur yet, but if it does in fact strike down all local smoking bans in South Carolina, there will follow a strong push to either rescind state preemption or adopt a state-wide ban. Lots of money will go into these efforts – it will be up to each and every one of us South Carolina freedom lovers to convince state government to keep state preemption and reject any state-wide bans.
High court to hear smoking ban case
January 4, 2008
In a case that could decide the fate of smoking bans in cities and towns across South Carolina, the state’s highest court is scheduled to consider the legality of Greenville’s ban on public, indoor smoking.
The high court’s decision in the Greenville case likely would seal the outcome of legal challenges to smoking bans in other municipalities, including Charleston and Sullivan’s Island.
While the anti-smoking ordinances differ, the central issue before the South Carolina Supreme Court is whether state law pre-empts municipalities from regulating smoking.
Lower courts have disagreed on the issue.
In March, Circuit Judge John Few struck down Greenville’s ban, citing a 1996 state law that he said prevented local governments from creating their own rules on smoking.
“Whether it is a good idea that smoking should be banned in indoor areas is exclusively a legislative issue,” Few wrote in his decision.
Few’s ruling contradicted a decision handed down several months earlier by Judge Deadra Jefferson, who dismissed a similar challenge to a ban in Sullivan’s Island.
“The power to regulate and control smoking is widely recognized,” Jefferson wrote.
Officials on both sides of the issue said they’re looking forward to getting some clarity on it because of the conflicting lower court rulings.
“If the Supreme Court says that this area of the law is pre-empted by the state, and individual cities and towns cannot make those types of laws, then that would have statewide application,” said Charleston attorney Paul Dominick, who represents the owner of a Sullivan’s Island bar who challenged the ruling there.
Frances Cantwell, an attorney defending Sullivan’s Island and the city of Charleston against challenges to smoking bans, said in a November interview that a Supreme Court ruling on pre-emption in either the Greenville or Sullivan’s Island case would bear on the Charleston’s case.
Sullivan’s Island was the first municipality to ban workplace smoking, in July 2006. Many towns and cities followed.
Greenville’s smoking ban went into effect a year ago, and Charleston’s took effect on July 23. Mount Pleasant stubbed out workplace smoking Sept. 1. Columbia, Bluffton, Beaufort County, Hilton Head and others also approved anti-smoking rules.
In the Supreme Court hearing scheduled Wednesday, the justices are expected to hear arguments from attorneys representing Greenville and the businesses challenging that city’s ordinance.
Legality Of Smoking Bans Are In Question
Nicole Johnson, Live 5 News
A state Supreme Court decision to be made this week could snub out smoking bans in effect across the state. The bans could be lifted, depending on the outcome of a case from Greenville.
At Mellow Mushroom the owners are trying to attract smoking customers by opening a rooftop patio. Even though the smoking ban hasn’t cut into a piece of their pie, they still believe businesses should have the right to choose.
“They need to have freedom to attract those customers,” said Jonah Jeter.
Some believe city governments took away people’s freedom with the indoor smoking ban, but a circuit court judge in Greenville has ruled the bans by local governments are a violation of state law, now a case that will go all the way to the State Supreme court.
“If the Supreme Court rules that Judge Few in Greenville is correct in his ruling, then we think that the ordinances would be struck down and that the ban would essentially be lifted,” said attorney Paul Dominick.
The Supreme Court hearing only deals with the Greenville case, but it could affect bars and restaurants right here in Charleston, depending on if the justices decide the bans are constitutional.
Dominick is working to get these bans lifted. He says it all depends on how the courts interpret a state law known as the Clean Indoor Air Act.
“If you construe those statues correctly that the state has decided that they’re going to make decisions on smoking, and that the state legislature has said local municipalities cannot pass these ordinances,” said Dominick.
Even with the local bans, businesses say sales are good, but giving people the freedom to choose is a persons’ right.
“It’s private property, it shouldn’t be dictated by the lawmakers what you do inside your own place. It’s over extending their rights,” said Jonah Jeter.
Rights that the Supreme Court will decide, whether smoking bans break the law or not.
The smoking ban case is set to be in Supreme Court on Wednesday. The outcome could affect whether a similar lawsuit from Sullivan’s Island will also go to court.
Read More: SC State Update Page 1