While we acknowledge people have a right to smoke, that right should not hinder non-smokers from being able to shop, eat and work. That’s why we applaud local efforts being made to make certain areas in the county smoke-free.
Just this week Barnwell City Council approved a smoke-free policy for all city-owned property, including buildings, parks and vehicles. While some places had already been smoke-free, the new policy makes previous rules official and expands the smoke-free status to other facilities. Williston implemented a similar policy about two years ago.
These are important steps that will lead to healthier working conditions for city workers along with a more pleasant experience for residents and visitors who attend recreational activities at local parks.
We especially want to recognize the Blackville Town Council, which is taking their smoke-free policy a step further by prohibiting smoking in all workplaces within the town limits. This includes town facilities and private businesses. Private homes are not impacted unless they operate day care centers, home health and other such businesses.
We understand some residents may not be happy with a smoking ban, particularly one like Blackville is looking to implement, but we believe this is a step in the right direction.
No resident or guest to our community should be subjected to being around smoke if they do not want to. Secondhand smoke is proven to be harmful.
“The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report said ‘there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.’ The report further found that non-smoking sections and high-tech ventilation systems are ineffective for protecting people against the toxins found in secondhand smoke,” according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website.
As of February 1, approximately 40 percent of South Carolinians are protected by smoke-free workplace laws. This includes all of Aiken, Lexington and Richland counties.
It seems that smaller, rural counties like Barnwell are slower to get on the smoke-free workplace bandwagon, but hopefully that will change soon.
We encourage the county and other municipalities to follow suit like Blackville and implement smoke-free workplace policies for all local businesses.
In the meantime, we encourage local businesses to implement their own smoke-free policies. The Axis 1 Center is looking for at least 10 businesses to pledge to be smoke-free.
If you are a smoker who would like to quit, please call the Tobacco Quitline at (800) 784-8669 (800-QUIT-NOW).