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City votes on smoking ordinance

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By Jesef Williams

It appears the city of Lancaster wants to come onboard with the effort to restrict smoking in the county. 

At its Tuesday, July 23, meeting, Lancaster City Council voted unanimously to approve first reading of a city ordinance to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public-access places. 

The ordinance draft is similar to the ones already adopted by Lancaster County Council, Kershaw Town Council and Heath Springs Town Council. 

With those existing ordinances, a person caught smoking in a restricted area faces a fine of between $10 and $25. A manager or owner of an establishment where such smoking occurs can face a fine of $50 or $100, depending on how many times the infraction happened. 

Lancaster City Attorney Mitch Norrell talked about the city’s draft during Tuesday’s meeting. 

“It essentially follows the same order as the county,” he said. 

According to the ordinance draft, smoking means “inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other lighted tobacco product in any manner or in any form.” 

The smoking ban would not apply to private clubs. Private homes are also exempt, except those that are used as child-care, adult day-care or health-care facilities. 

The ordinance also doesn’t apply to “tobacco shops” or other retail businesses “whose exclusive or primary purpose is the retail sale of tobacco products.” 

All establishments where smoking will not be allowed would have to place “no smoking” signs or symbols in visible areas. 

“I think we worked very diligently to make sure the ordinance was fair to the public and to the businesses in the city,” Councilwoman Jackie Harris said. 

What’s next? 

Councilman John Howard mentioned the idea of having a public forum prior to final reading. At Tuesday’s meeting, council members didn’t say if such a forum will indeed be held.  

There was no definite word on whether final reading would occur at council’s next meeting, which is Aug. 13. 

Earlier this year, Donna Parsons, chairwoman of Lancaster County’s Health and Wellness Commission, told City Council that if the town of Heath Springs and the city of Lancaster adopt the ordinance, Lancaster County would become the first county in South Carolina to have a truly comprehensive smoking ordinance. 

Heath Springs has since adopted it. 

 

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152.