Smoking ban passes in Charleston County

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - No more lighting up at work, and that includes in restaurants and bars. A smoking ban that will affect businesses in all unincorporated areas of Charleston County passed its third and final reading Tuesday evening.{}

You can read the ordinance in its entirety here.

The County council members voted to pass an ordinance that aims to prevent secondhand smoke in the workplace. The ordinance cites many studies that have shown smoking is a significant cause of cancer, heart disease, and lung disorders in smokers and passive smokers.{}

The ban puts the responsibility on employers to prohibit all smoking in all enclosed work spaces in a workplace.{} This includes all common areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference rooms, private offices, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, and all other enclosed areas in the workplace.{}

Smoking will still be permitted outside a workplace as long as the smoker is at a reasonable distance away from a building so that tobacco smoke cannot enter the workplace through entrances, windows, ventilation systems, or other means.{}

Private residences, hotel designated "smoking rooms," retail tobacco stores, medical research facilities, and cigar bars are excluded from the ban.{}

"We are pleased to see this ordinance passed with a strong majority support of council members," said Bill Settlemyer, President of the Smoke Free Lowcountry Coalition. "We thank county council for taking on this issue and are especially grateful to our champion Councilman Henry Darby for sponsoring the ordinance ensuring all workers have protection from the hazards of secondhand smoke exposure on the job."

Within four weeks of the effective date, the ordinance says a copy of the policy shall be conspicuously posted in all facilities or areas of the workplace.

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office says any employer or employee who fails to comply with the new ban can be fined anywhere from $10 to $25. Each day of continuing violation will be considered a separate offense. Repeated violations could cause the employer to lose their business license.

The ban goes into affect Thursday, October 4.