Smoking ban in Rock Hill parks might become reality tonight: What you need to know

MCT file

The Rock Hill City Council will consider tonight the second reading of a proposed smoking ban in the city’s public parks.

In a 4-3 vote, the council has given initial approval to a proposal that would ban smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, in all parks owned and operated by the city.

Learn about recent smoking ban developments in the timeline below:

Council members were divided two weeks ago while weighing public health versus individual rights.

Noting that Piedmont Medical Center, Winthrop University, York Technical College and all public schools in Rock Hill are smoke-free campuses, Mayor Doug Echols said there is plenty of support for not allowing smoking in parks.

But Councilman Kevin Sutton advocated finding middle ground by allowing designated smoking areas in parks away from playgrounds. He said government can only go so far in regulating people’s health habits.

At some point, people have to live their lives. They shouldn’t infringe on others.

Rock Hill City Council member Kevin Sutton

Smokers breathed a sigh of relief early last year when the council failed to pass a similar measure.

After discussing whether and how to best regulate smoking in the city’s parks and recreation centers, council members split 3-3 in the vote, with Sutton and council members John Black and Ann Williamson voting against the measure, arguing any limits on smoking in parks would be too restrictive.

Council member Sandra Oborokumo was not present at the March 2015 council meeting, preventing a potentially decisive vote.

In 2009, the council banned smoking in all enclosed spaces such as schools, businesses and city property. Smoking is also prohibited in city-owned vehicles. Both bans apply to traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham