Fort Mill Times

Town of Fort Mill advances smoking ban plan

The Town of Fort Mill is closing in on a proposed ordinance to ban smoking in public places, including restaurants.

"It's the progressive thing to do," Town Manager David Hudspeth said Monday during a scheduled council workshop. "It allows us to go on the record."

Officials in York County and neighboring Rock Hill have already adopted smoking ordinances. In Fort Mill, leaders are in the process of inking out a draft of a proposed smoking ordinance that will go before the town council.

That draft is set to be presented to the council prior to its next regularly scheduled meeting in less than two weeks, Mayor Danny Funderburk said.

However, leaders are concerned about enforcing the ordinance. That would require two readings from the town council. Possible fines have not been discussed.

"The enforcement is a little bit of a concern," Hudspeth said. "I don't see us actively policing. I can't imagine somebody in the restaurant calling the police to come and enforce that. I just don't see us writing tickets for someone smoking in a public place."

And enforcing such a ban in private clubs could be an issue, too, he said.

"None of us go in there, and the police do not frequent those places," Hudspeth said. "How are you going to enforce it?"

Yet, at least one council member said enforcing a potential smoking ban is akin to enforcing the speed limit.

"There's nobody out there telling us to obey the speed limit," Councilman Tom Adams said. "With any law, you're relying on the good will of the public to enforce it."

And while a majority of the town council appears to favor the smoking ban, some members have reservations.

"I could see how you could pass this, but I think there has to be some exceptions," Councilman Ken Starnes said. "We need to do this, but I can't do it without some exceptions."

Those exceptions, council members contend, are germane to clubs.

"What's at issue is private clubs," Councilman Kerry Mosher said.

Council members are concerned about how a proposed smoking ordinance would impact private clubs, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and Moose Lodge, as well as business owners and merchants who sell cigarettes or offer smoking lounges, Funderburk said.

"The consensus of the council was that we need to take a good hard look at private clubs," Funderburk said. "They police themselves. The public can't walk in off the street into a private club so there is no complete public access to a private club."

Funderburk suggested modifying Fort Mill's proposed smoking ban to allow smoking exceptions at such private clubs and businesses.

"If a person has a tobacco shop with a smoking lounge and they want to allow smoking, then I think they should," Funderburk said.

The next schedule meeting is May 11. Until then, Hudspeth will be working on a draft of a proposed smoking ordinance that includes exceptions.

"That would make it more palatable for me," Adams said.