"When you have 95,000 local units of government in this country, and you have a finite amount of resources, then the smart thing to do is to try to limit the potential for mischief [i.e. seek preemption]."Walker Merryman
Smokefree progress throughout South Carolina
Nearly 40 communities throughout South Carolina have enacted strong smokefree laws.
The South Carolina Supreme Court unanimously ruled that local governments have the right to enact and enforce smokefree laws on March 31, 2008. The Supreme Court ruling upheld the local smokefree law enacted by the City of Greenville in October 2006, which paves the way for other South Carolina communities to move forward with enacting and enforcing smokefree laws.
Prior to this ruling, the law with respect to preemption in South Carolina was unsettled, as two trial courts in the state had reached opposite conclusions on the issue. In June 2006, the town of Sullivan's Island enacted a 100% smokefree workplace law, the first of its kind in South Carolina, and the law was upheld against a legal challenge based on preemption. In Beachfront Entertainment, Inc., et. al. v. Town of Sullivan's Island, No. 2006-CP-10-3501 (SC Court of Common Pleas, Charleston County, Dec. 20, 2006), the court found neither express nor implied preemption in state law. The court noted that S.C. Code § 5-7-30, a part of the Home Rule Act, specifically authorizes municipalities to enact regulations "preserving health, peace and good government" and that "the power to regulate and control smoking is widely recognized."
In October 2006, Greenville enacted a strong smokefree law, which was also challenged in court on the ground of preemption. This time, in Foothills Brewing Concern, Inc. et. al. v. City of Greenville, No. 2006-CP-23-7803 (SC Court of Common Pleas, Greenville County, Mar. 8, 2007), the court not only ruled that the City law was preempted by State law, but also that it violated the State Constitution by criminalizing conduct that is not illegal under State criminal laws governing the same subject. The court thus declared the law to be void and unenforceable and permanently enjoined its enforcement.
While the preemption issue was unresolved, municipalities in South Carolina other than those within the jurisdiction of the Greenville County court were still free to enact their own smokefree air laws, subject, of course, to the possibility that any law might be challenged on the basis of preemption.
Since Sullivan's Island enacted the first 100% smokefree law in the state in
June 2006, many other local communities have asserted their right to local control
by enacting 100% smokefree ordinances. These communities include Beaufort
County, Bluffton, Columbia, Charleston, Hilton Head Island and Clemson,
and other communities are in the process of considering smokefree policies.
Current tobacco-related statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control's Tobacco Control State Highlights, 2010.
South Carolina's 2016 Legislative Session: January 12 - June 2
- 1/19/2017H3241—(vehicles with minors)—A bill to Amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina—Session Adjourned
- 5/26/2017Preemption Watch Bill Tracking Summary
- 2/4/2011What's happening in the U.S. Territories and Commonwealths?
- 5/10/2017The Threat of Super-Preemption
- 3/6/2017Preemption Prevents Innovation
- 2/21/2017City Rights in an Era of Preemption: A State-by-State Analysis
- 2/2/2017Red State, Blue City
- 1/5/2017GOP aims to rein in liberal cities
- 9/9/2016How ALEC, ACCE, and Preemption Laws are Gutting the Powers of American Cities
- 8/22/2016Blue Cities, Red States
- 6/28/2016Colorado Preemptions of Local Government: The Need for the Colorado Community Rights Amendment
- 6/23/2016State and Local Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws for Worksites, Restaurants, and Bars--United States, 2015
- 4/6/2016From Fracking Bans To Paid Sick Leave: How States Are Overruling Local Laws
- 4/1/2016Growing Southern cities are increasingly targets of state pre-emption
- 3/25/2016Beyond North Carolina's LGBT Battle: States' War on Cities
- 2/4/2016Corporate Interests Take Aim at Local Democracy
- 8/6/2015Blowing the Whistle on ALEC's Little Brother ACCE
- 7/7/2015Four Ways ALEC Tried to Ruin Your State this Year
- 5/17/2015Say no: States increasingly blocking cities and counties from imposing mandates on businesses
- 5/8/2015State lawmakers hate federal meddling even as they preempt local government
- 3/30/2015The ALEC-Backed War on Local Democracy
- 2/23/2015Govern Yourselves, State Lawmakers Tell Cities, but Not Too Much
- 12/9/2010Prefiled Bills Would Ban Smoking in SC Indoor Public Places
- 2/5/2010State Preemption of Local Smoke-Free Laws in Government Work Sites, Private Work Sites, and Restaurants United States, 2005-2009
- 10/29/2008Surfside pauses smoking ban
- 9/8/2008SC Supreme Court: Breaking smoking ban not a crime
- 4/7/2008Save local governments' right to craft own smoke-free laws
- 4/3/2008Court ruling a victory for community health
- 3/31/2008SC Supreme Court says Cities can Ban Smoking
- 3/26/2008Statewide smoking ban stalls, heads back to subcommittee
- 3/25/2008Limits on smokers get key vote today
- 3/24/2008Local control critical for smoke-free workplaces
- 2/27/2008Charleston smoking ban still faces challenges in Columbia
- 2/27/2008Statewide smoking ban headed to House committee again
- 1/21/2008Is the tobacco industry spending for sway in S.C.?
- 1/15/2008State Lawmakers Delay Vote on State Smoking Ban
- 1/14/2008House Judiciary Committee To Consider Eliminating Smoke-Free Ordinances
- 1/8/2008SC high court to hear smoking ban challenge
- 1/4/2008Smoking bans make way to SC Supreme Court
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State Specific Resources
- 5/7/2007Resolution for Local Control: South Carolina NAACP
- 4/25/2005Trident United Way Resolution in Support of Local Smokefree Ordinances