Members of city council are considering an ordinance that would prohibit the “possession of lighted smoking materials in any form, including but not limited to the possession of lighted cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other tobacco products.”
They unanimously passed first reading of the ordinance and plan to take a closer look at it during a work session in two weeks before taking a second and final vote.
Two members of the public, Jerry Black and Tony Kobach, spoke out against the ordinance.
“It should be up to the individual business owner whether or not they want smoking or non-smoking,” Black said.
Kobach, who owns Tony’s Restaurant, suggested that council have a referendum vote to see what the public wants
Prior to the vote, Council member Jason Cassell said his restaurant, Pizza Inn went non-smoking eight to 10 years ago and that it had not affected his business.
“It’s somewhat the norm now,” he said. “I think we’re looking out for everybody these days.”
The ordinance defines public place as any enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is allowed to meet, conduct business or recreate.
This includes restaurants, retail stores and establishments that sell or distribute beer, wine or alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption, the ordinance states.
However, private residences; hotel, motel and bed and breakfast rooms rented to guests and designated as smoking rooms; religious ceremonies where smoking is part of the ritual; and private clubs or lodges would not fall under the ban.
Also, establishments that make 50 percent or more of their revenue from blending tobacco, or selling tobacco, pipes, cigars and smokers’ sundries are also exempt.
Citizens within the city limits would also not be allowed to use tobacco products in enclosed city-owned buildings and vehicles, or at events in town, like parades and festivals.
Council agreed Monday to change to fine for violating the ordinance to $25, to fall in line with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
The cities of Liberty, Easley and Clemson already have smoking bans.
Mayor David Owens said second reading would take place the second Monday of the month, and he invited the public to speak about the ordinance at that time.
He also said anyone with information or comments prior to that meeting should speak with their council representative.
“We certainly want to make it fair for everyone,” he said.
If approved, Owens said the ordinance would go into effect May 1.