Tega Cay leaders split over enacting city smoking ban

TEGA CAY -- City Council members voted to outlaw smoking in the bar at the city-owned Tega Cay Golf Course clubhouse Monday, but stopped short of an outright ban on smoking in city-owned buildings.

The outright smoking ban had been on the council's agenda for Monday. However, while discussing the proposed ordinance, council members disagreed over how far the city law should go.

State law already prohibits smoking in all city-owned buildings, but it allows municipalities to single out specific smoking sections if elected officials vote to allow it, which was the case with the clubhouse bar.

Over the last year, city residents led by members of the city's Vintage Club have circulated a petition to prohibit smoking in the bar. The council move is a policy change for the bar and did not require a new ordinance.

However, the proposed anti-smoking ordinance will likely return at the September meeting, Based on the council discussion, it might include provisions prohibiting the use of other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco in city-owned buildings and barring the use of tobacco products in city-owned vehicles.

Banning the use of smokeless tobacco products, and all tobacco products in vehicles, goes beyond the state law and will require an ordinance to enforce.

Council members John Dervay and George Sheppard didn't think the proposed anti-smoking ordinance went far enough, and instead favored banning the use of tobacco products in all public buildings, including private businesses.

But Mayor Bob Runde and Councilman Les Conner both opposed extending the ban to private businesses, saying that should be left up to business owners.

Councilman Larry Harper was against the ordinance altogether because state law already prohibits smoking in city buildings and he was opposed to extending it to private businesses.

Runde promised to schedule a public hearing on the ordinance if it receives first approval at September's meeting.