Why We Need LOCAL Smoke Free Ordinances

Everyone deserves to breathe smoke free air in public places and at work.

Every worker deserves to breathe smoke free air, no matter where they work, whether in an office, restaurant, or bar. All workers and the general public should be protected equally from secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke kills 50,000 Americans each year. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease – even in non-smokers.

Secondhand smoke contains 69 cancer-causing agents and more than 4,000 chemicals, including formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, and arsenic.

The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association support comprehensive smoke-free policies because they protect everyone from hazardous secondhand smoke.

In June 2006, The U.S. Surgeon General's Report stated that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, that ventilation does not work, and that the only way to make indoor establishments safe is to take the smoke outside

Charleston Area Research

1.) A December, 2005, University of South Carolina survey of Charleston residents, showed that by nearly a three-to-one margin (70 percent to 25 percent), residents would support a city law prohibiting smoking inside all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
Also, The same respondents, by a margin of 81 percent to 11 percent, said the rights of customers and employees to breathe clean air in restaurants and bars is more important than the rights of smokers to smoke in these places. Even a majority of smokers believe the right to breathe clean air in restaurants and bars is more important than the right to smoke inside those places.

2.) A 2006 Charleston visitor survey showed an overwhelming preference for smoke free dining:
- 91% of visitors said they would be as or more likely to return to a smoke free city.
- 78% of visitors said a smoke free policy would not keep them from patronizing a bar or club.
- 79% said they would be as likely, or more likely, to go to a bar or club that is smoke free.

3.) Air Quality Warning: A 2008 indoor air quality study showed levels of particulate matter from secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants Charleston and Mount Pleasant decreased by 94% following passage of smoke free ordinances. North Charleston continues to exceed the EPA's daily outdoor maximum exposure limits by 3 times.
Protect Worker Health: Opponents will say that patrons have a choice to "go someplace else."
Most workers cannot choose to simply quit their jobs. What about child-only laws? "Child-only" laws fail to consider that workers, and everyone else, will still be exposed to secondhand smoke. "Hours-only" provisions also neglect risks to workers.
What works best? 100% smoke free indoor workplace and public place ordinances, including restaurants and bars. (Easier Interpretation = Easier Enforcement)

Frequently Asked Questions

1.) Why local ordinances instead of a statewide law? At this time, S.C. legislators have shown that they are unwilling to pass a statewide law that would protect everyone equally. Every local ordinance passed in South Carolina is stronger than any draft yet considered at the Statehouse. Tobacco and hospitality industry lobbyists continue to fight to make sure any statewide law would be weak, and would preempt (or block) any local ability to create a local ordinance stronger than state law. There are two major threats in prematurely attempting a statewide law:
- Preemption of local governments' rights to pass a local ordinance stronger than state law.
This is a primary tobacco/hospitality industry strategy designed to keep all decision-making power at the state level, where tobacco lobbyists can more effectively keep laws weak and ineffective. These lobbyists have no such power at the local level.
- A weak statewide law.
This would encourage local municipalities to roll back strong local laws already in place, re- introducing deadly secondhand smoke to indoor workplaces and public places.

2.) Why don't we just have separately ventilated rooms?
The U.S. Surgeon General has stated that ventilation may remove the odor and appearance of smoke, but cannot remove the harmful elements from secondhand smoke.

3.) What about impact on business?
Every legitimate, peer-reviewed study has shown that business levels either remain the same or increase after passage of a smokefree law. Only studies paid for by the tobacco industry show otherwise.

4.) How will we enforce it?
Smoke free ordinances are largely self-enforcing, and violations are rare.

5.) How many local smoke free ordinances have been passed in South Carolina?
There are 37 local smoke free ordinances in South Carolina. These laws cover over 30% of the state's population, and protect over 1.3 million citizens. These local ordinances are remarkably consistent, with rare exception, protecting workers in all indoor workplaces, restaurants, and bars. Protected communities include: Sullivan's Island, Liberty, Greenville, Columbia, Beaufort County, Bluffton, Charleston, Aiken County, Hilton Head Island, Mount Pleasant, Surfside Beach, Clemson, Walterboro, City of Beaufort, Richland County, City of Aiken, North Augusta, Camden, Town of Lexington, Isle of Palms, Easley, Edisto Beach, Rock Hill, York County, Sumter, Pickens, Fort Mill, Lexington County, Springdale, and Pine Ridge, Cayce, West Columbia, Cayce, Ravenel, South Congaree, Hollywood, Chapin, Chesnee.

6.) Opponent: "If workers don't like the smoke, why don't they just go work someplace else?"
Response: Most people work where they can find work, especially those most likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Restaurants and bars are workplaces, too. Everyone should have the right to breathe clean air, no matter where they work.

7.) Opponent: Keeping smoke indoors is about "rights."
Response: What about the rights of the workers in these workplaces? Shouldn't they have the right to work without being exposed to toxic chemicals?

Did You Know?

Smoking kills more people each year than alcohol, AIDS, motor vehicle accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides COMBINED.
More than 51,000 people die each year from other tobacco-related causes such as exposure to second-hand smoke, fires related to smoking, and smokeless tobacco use.
An estimated 5 million children alive today will eventually die as a result of their smoking.

South Carolina Facts:
36% of high school students smoke.
240,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home.
15 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by our children each year.
Only 24.9% of adults smoke.
4,100 of our citizens die from smoking-related causes each year.
If current trends continue, 76,000 children now under 18 will die from smoke-related causes.

Human Costs:
Our state has smoking-attributable death rates due to lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that are higher than the rest of the nation. The toll of nationwide tobacco use is seen in approximately 460,000 human lives lost each year, and alarming rates of nonsmokers are affected by secondhand smoke exposure either at home or in the workplace. Of the 3,000 nonsmokers with lung disease caused by secondhand smoke, approximately 800 cases are from exposure at home while 2,200 are from exposure in work or social settings.

In adults:

Secondhand smoke is a human lung carcinogen, responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers every year.
Approximately 35,000 to 62,000 deaths from heart disease are seen in nonsmokers annually.

In children:

Secondhand smoke exposure is causally associated with an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia - with estimates that 150,000 to 300,000 cases occur annually in infants and young children up to 18 months of age due solely to ETS.
Secondhand smoke exposure is causally associated with increased prevalence of fluid in the middle ear, symptoms of upper respiratory tract irritation, and a small but significant reduction in lung function.
Secondhand smoke exposure is causally associated with additional episodes and increased severity of symptoms in children with asthma - with estimates that between 200,000 and one million children have asthma worsened by exposure to ETS.
Secondhand smoke exposure is a risk factor for new cases of asthma in children who have not previously displayed symptoms.

Of even greater significance:

Over 90,700 South Carolina youth are projected to die from smoking within their lifetime - a figure higher than that projected in all other states.
Youth face the greatest harm due to exposure over time from both active smoking and secondhand smoke.

Economic Costs:
South Carolina spends over three-quarters of a billion dollars for tobacco-caused health expenditures, with an additional yearly expenditure of $21-66 million for babies' health problems associated with mothers' smoke or their exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smoking-Related Costs to South Carolina

$855 million - direct medical expenses attributed to smoking in 1998
More than $1.6 billion - Smoking-attributable work productivity loss in 1999
$307 million - Medicaid expenditures for smoking-related illnesses and diseases of which South Carolina taxpayers footed the bill in 1998 for about 14%

Smoking-attributable medical expenditures top out for the following:
Ambulatory costs at $283 million
Hospital costs at $238 million
Nursing Home costs at $182 million
Prescription drug costs at $80 million
Other related medical costs at $72 million

South Carolina spends over $223 per capita on smoking-attributable direct medical expenditures, and over $516 per Medicaid recipient on smoking-related illnesses and diseases.

Business Costs:
Hospitality businesses and worksites face unrealized costs due to smoking allowances and nonexistent or ineffective ventiliation systems:
Higher maintenance expenses (carpets, drapes, cloths, paintwork replacement or repair due to smoke exposure)
Higher insurance premiums (fire, medical, workers comp, liability)
Higher labor costs (absenteeism, productivity)
Also, as evidence mounts about the dangers of secondhand smoke, so does the legal liability of employers - including restaurants and other public social settings.
Employees in other states have tested the limits of personal health liability under the Americans With Disabilities Act for employers who refuse to ensure a smoke-free worksite. For example, worksites carry a greater liability when smoking is allowed on the work premises, thereby potentially exposing pregnant and asthmatic workers to secondhand smoke.

Hospitality workers have less protection than any other group of workers

For a "career" waitress or water, just 20 minutes of exposure has the same effects on blood and blood vessels as a pack a day smoker.
Direct smoking and continuous smoke exposure can also affect a business' "bottom-line" - with these individuals being more sickly and less productive overall. In one study of 300 employees in an American Airline ticket office, researchers found that smokers had more than two extra days off sick each year compared to their nonsmoking colleagues.
Research in Tobacco Control, a publication of the British Medical Journal, also revealed that workplace productivity is increased and absenteeism is decreased among former smokers as compared to current smokers.

Employers must recognize that health and business competitiveness are funamentally flawed

Human Costs, Economic Costs and Business Costs sections taken from Secondhand Smoke Harm Reduction: Realizing a Smoke-Free Charleston, published by the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative

For more information please contact us at smokefreelowcountry@yahoo.com

Smoke Free Lowcountry
P.O. Box 3174
Summerville, SC 29484-3174

Call or Text us at: 843-588-5087
Fax: 843-797-8638

Call or Text us at: 843-588-5087
Fax: 843-797-8638