South Carolina has been recognized for its proactive approach to clean air and smoke-free workplaces. The state was awarded the Smokefree Challenge Awards on the National Conference on Tobacco Or Health on June 9 in Phoenix, AZ. South Carolina has 27 local ordinances statewide that protect workers from smoke in their workplace. Dan Carrigan, the Executive Director of the Smoke-Free Action Network says these local ordinances haven proven to be more powerful than any legislation that has been made at the state level. He says this a great achievement for the Palmetto State.
“The local ordinances tend to be stronger then the actions recommended at the (SC) statehouse,” according to Carrigan. “So, it’s really a rare public health achievement in a state that has a lot of very bad health statistics and health disparities when it comes to access to care and success in public health measures.
“We’re really proud of this achievement.”
Carrigan says these health organizations want to protect everyone from the dangers of second hand smoke. “That’s the major thrust behind these ordinances. It’s to protect workers. As a matter of fact, all of the health advocates that work on smoke-free ordinances in our state don’t support anything unless it protects all workers equally.
“That means, if an elected official gets the idea that they’ll exempt bars, for example, or exempt restaurants, we are opposed to any exemptions because we feel that everyone should be protected equally,” says Carrigan.
A State Supreme Court ruling last year was instrumental in these local ordinances. Carrigan says, “The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that local government(s) do, in fact, have the right to pass their own smoke-free ordinances. The Hospitality Association of South Carolina and the Tobacco Industry Lobbyists were up there claiming that current state law prohibited it. The (SC) Supreme Court found otherwise and that really opened the door for local communities wanting to pass ordinances like those that had previously passed in Greenville and on Sullivan’s Island.”
The Smoke-Free Actions Network is working in partnership with the SC African American Tobacco Control Network and the SC Coastal Conservation League campaigning for cleaner air for indoors and out.