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News Summary

Lawmakers stub out smoke-free workplace movement

Publication Date: 5/8/2007
  • Author:Brad Warthen
  • Publication:The State, SC

As communities across South Carolina have rushed to protect workers and patrons in restaurants and bars -- in response to public demand, and a recent Surgeon General's report -- they have faced one major barrier: The Legislature doesn't want them to do it, and passed a law several years back forbidding them to do so.

If the General Assembly as a body were not actively hostile to public health, all it would have to do to foster a new dawn is get out of the way -- repeal its pre-emption of local governments.

Instead, in actions that might baffle Machiavelli, it has taken idealistic legislation that would place a statewide ban on smoking in such public accommodations, watered it down to meaninglessness, and included even more emphatic language making sure that local governments can't go beyond the meager changes in this bill...

That last part is what has public health advocates ready to kill the bill altogether -- which has some of our relatively-benign-but-less-thoughtful lawmakers (and that's a large subset of the General Assembly) -- dismissing them as soreheads not willing to take "half a loaf." But it isn't half a loaf; it's a serious setback.