Fort Mill Times

Tega Cay smoking ban vote dies; issue up for vote again Aug. 18

TEGA CAY — After a brief discussion at a special called council meeting Thursday night, the City Council decided not to vote on a resolution to ban smoking in city-owned buildings .

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

“The reason I didn’t vote,” Councilman George Sheppard said, “is because I believe we shouldn’t do this by resolution. It’s a one-time vote that doesn’t allow public discussion.”

The resolution would have stated that it would be 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 pointed out that the resolution would have made smoking in city-owned buildings illegal, and the state law that the resolution language relies on sets 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.

Councilmen John Dervay and Larry Harper were absent.