Tega Cay waits on smoking resolution

TEGA CAY -- The City Council decided on Thursday not to vote on a resolution that would ban smoking in city-owned buildings.

Mayor Bob Runde moved to vote on the resolution, but no one seconded his motion, so it died without a vote. Instead, the council directed City Manager Grant Duffield to bring the issue back to them as an ordinance at the next regularly scheduled council meeting set for Aug. 18.

"We shouldn't do this by resolution," Councilman George Sheppard said. "It's a one-time vote that doesn't allow public discussion."

The resolution would have made it unlawful for any person to smoke or "possess lighted smoking material" inside of any enclosed structure owned by the city. As a resolution, the measure would have required only one council vote, and it would have expired at the end of the year. As an ordinance, it will require two council votes, which would allow for public comment between votes. An ordinance also carries the force of law.

Councilman Les Conner said the resolution would have made smoking in city-owned buildings illegal. He added that the state law on the resolution would set out penalties and fines. For the city to enforce penalties and fines, Conner said, the measure has to be set by ordinance under state law.

However, even as an ordinance, the smoking ban will not change much in the city. All city-owned buildings are already smoke-free, with the exception of the bar at the Tega Cay Golf Course Clubhouse. The state law on which the ordinance will be based allows for the city to specify specific areas inside otherwise smoke-free buildings as smoking areas.

"There was a lot of discussion about (allowing smoking in the bar) before we built it, with regards to whether we had enough 'smoke eaters' to take care of the smoke in the bar," Conner said.

Council members John Dervay and Larry Harper were absent from Wednesday's meeting.

Later this month the city of Rock Hill and York County will hold a public forum to hear opinions on a joint smoking ban in all indoor public places, including most notably restaurants, not just government owned buildings. That ban would go further than the one proposed in Tega Cay, which only affects city-owned buildings.

Debate about such a smoking ban has stretched over the last four years while local governments were waiting to see how the State Supreme Court ruled on a similar ban in Greenville. The Court decided earlier this year that cities and counties are allowed to write their own smoking rules.

The Rock Hill - York County forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 26 at Rock Hill City Hall.