Smoking on Isle of Palms' city-owned property, public beaches and beach access points may be banned as early as Jan. 1, 2020.
After last addressing the issue in August, Public Works Committee was uncertain which type of tobacco products would or wouldn't be included in the potential smoking ban. Last week, personnel reconvened and presented a draft outlining the parameters for council to consider a first reading later this month.
The proposed language to the current ordinance would amend that prohibited smoking materials include: cigars, cigarettes, vaping devices and all other smoking devices intended to be used for the purpose of inhaling and exhaling smoke.
According to the city's definition of smoking, nicotine products like chewing tobacco will be not be prohibited due to their smokeless nature. The physical impact of smoke in the environment and secondhand smoke within public spaces are committee members biggest concerns.
Under the city's current ordinance, smoking will still be permitted in designated rooms at hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts. Smoking would also be allowed for stage performers as long as it's part of the act. Also, at places such as religious ceremonies where smoking is part of the ritual and medical research facilities.
Establishments where smoking is prohibited will be required to post a sign in the main entrance way or area with the words "No Smoking" and the universal symbol for no smoking clearly visible.
Smoking at outdoor private businesses such as bars and restaurants will not be prohibited and therefore are not applicable to any of the proposed regulations.
As for fines, smokers and business personnel in violation will be fined anywhere from $10-25. Repeated offenses for business personnel may be subject to loss of licensing. Each day of a continuing violation would be considered a separate and distinct public violation.
In further discussion, councilmember Carol Rice said this is a chance to modify behavior and decrease litter on the beach, which is predominantly cigarette butts. In 2018, Isle of Palms citizens and non-citizens voluntarily picked up 23,000 pieces of trash, according to the Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew.
Councilmember Susan Smith concurred with Rice and expressed how the ban is simultaneously addressing a health issue.
During the process of drafting amendments to the current ordinance over the past month, Public Works Committee met with the Public Safety Committee regarding enforcement. They did not make a recommendation but agreed it could be enforced.
In addition, Isle of Palms Police Chief Chief Cornett said such a ban is more of an opportunity to educate and interact with the public rather than write tickets.
Public Works Committee passed the motion unanimously. City administrator Desiree Fragoso stated there will likely be a first reading of a similar ban on Sullivan’s Island in October or November.