Smoking on Sullivan’s Island has been banned and enforcement is effective immediately as of Jan. 21. Last week, town council unanimously passed the third and final reading of the smoking ban ordinance.
Since last July, when Sullivan’s Island first introduced the idea of a smoking ban in its Public Facilities Committee, the support has been unwavering. Over the past six months, every council and citizen discussion regarding the subject has been met with no pushback.
“I didn’t hear a single word against this from any resident on the island,” said councilmember Greg Hammond, Public Facilities chair. “I think having resident support or lack of resident uproar over this across the board made it a pretty easy thing for people to vote through.”
Hammond said that Sullivan’s Island being so conservation-oriented made the matter non-controversial.
“This was a Sullivan’s Island initiative since day one,” said Hammond. “I was actually surprised that (Isle of Palms) beat us to it, but I’m glad that both beaches got it done.”
Isle of Palms’ smoking ban ordinance was passed into effect Jan. 1. However, their ban is not as encompassing because it only has authority over the beach and beach access paths.
Sullivan’s Island ban prohibits smoking or vaping on the beach, access paths, public parks and town facilities. Smoking materials includes cigars, cigarettes and all other manner of smoking devices intended to be used for the purpose of inhaling, burning, carrying or exhaling smoke.
The council expressed their agreement to pass the ordinance is because they want to protect nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke. By reducing the smoking-associated pollution in the specified areas, the council contends it will improve the health, comfort and environment of the people.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure, according to Centers for Disease and Control 2019 data.
There are several exceptions within the smoking ordinance. Smoking will still be permitted at private residences or privately-owned properties. Secondly, at religious ceremonies where smoking is part of the ritual.
A person, employee or employer who violates the provisions of the ordinance shall be subject up to a $25 fine. This is the same course of action that Isle of Palms is enforcing.
Town administrator Andy Benke noted that Sullivan’s Island still working with Isle of Palms to promote an educational outreach campaign on both smoking and plastics ordinances. Benke said that staff from Explore Charleston have been recruited to help curate the announcement.
To view the full language of the ordinance in the meeting agenda, click here.