New proposal to reduce secondhand smoke in Beaufort Co. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New proposal to reduce secondhand smoke in Beaufort Co.

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Beaufort County smokers may soon have to walk a little further away from county buildings before lighting up.

A new proposal intends to stretch the no smoking zones and decrease fines at the same time.

Any building owned and operated by the county, including courthouses and baseball fields, would be off limits to secondhand smoke, and this would include vapes and e-cigarettes as well.

"Well, obviously, smoking is a public health risk. I feel empathy for those who smoke because it’s super difficult, especially, for some to quit."

These are the concerns Beaufort county officials are looking at as they try to reduce second hand smoke for their employees and residents. During a discussion on Monday in the Community Services Committee meeting, staff presented the proposal to expand smoking ban areas, not just inside the buildings, but outside as well.

"The Community Services is taking into consideration expanding the areas in which smoking is banned, primarily because the health and safety concerns of our Beaufort County citizens is the top priority,” said Allison Coppage, Beaufort County Attorney’s Office.

Coppage says they first put smoking bans in place in the 80s. Later in the 90's, the state introduced the Clean Indoor Air Act, which has much lower fines than Beaufort County originally put in place.

"The penalties that were in place, at least the maximum, seemed totally ridiculous,” said Beaufort County resident, William “Griff” Griffith.

Instead of being $500, the fines would now only be between $10-25, putting Beaufort County in line with the state law.

The proposal has specific rules for work place and county-owned facilities, but it won't affect privately-owned buildings. 

Griff and Doug Kale, both Beaufort County residents, are in favor of this new proposal.

"I’m not against the county having more restrictive policy,” Griffith said.

"Well, I think they should outlaw smoking, period,” said Kale.

This proposal is in the very beginning phases of becoming a law. Of course, changes can be made, but first it has to go back to the community services committee to be voted on to go to council. Then, it will have to go through three readings and a public hearing before a council vote.

 Like always, you can voice your opinion on this matter.

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