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Clearing the Air: Smoking Finally Becomes Public Health Issue in S.C.

Publication Date: 2007-05-16
  • Author:ERIC K. WARD
  • Publication:Columbia (SC) Free Times

For more than three centuries, tobacco has been a proverbial pillar of the Palmetto State’s agricultural economy, rooting itself in the politics and culture of South Carolina as well...

Last summer, the little coastal town of Sullivan’s Island broke new ground in becoming the first municipality in the state to prohibit smoking in indoor public places. Since then, eight other municipalities, including Columbia, have followed suit in a slow but steady brush fire against tobacco, burning up tolerance in the state for nonsmokers being exposed to the lethality of cigarettes in public...

“It’s become more of an accepted public health issue and less of a red-headed stepchild issue,” says Renee Martin, director of the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative. “I think people are finally coming to terms with the fact that it is the number one preventable cause of death and disability in America, and I think the key word is preventable.”...

And in a potential hamstringing of the smoke-free movement, bills are moving through both the House and the Senate to run roughshod over home rule and put the kibosh on locally imposed smoking bans.

To public health advocates, the bills represent half a loaf at best. Both pieces of legislation would stub out smoking in restaurants but allow it in bars, and, more importantly, supersede local governments by restricting them from adopting their own smoking bans.