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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative

To:  TFYC Coalition Members

Re:  Supreme Court Oral Arguments (January 9, 2008 at 10:30)


Attached are the talking points developed by the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative / Smoke-Free SC Partners group's Communication Committee. 


Also, you can listen to Dr Nichols' interview on WRHI's "Straight Talk" radio show (Monday, 1/7/2008) about local efforts in York County to pass a smoke-free workplace ordinance at:  




Supreme Court Oral Arguments Talking Points



·         We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm local governments’ power to make smoke-free laws because everyone deserves to breathe clean air.


·         Eleven municipalities across the state have passed ordinances to protect their workers, residents, and visitors from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke.

o        If the court decides against the City of Greenville in this case, then these laws will be null, and workers again will be exposed to a completely preventable health hazard.

o        When U.S. Surgeon General released his landmark 2006 report on “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke,” he said the only way to protect against the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure is to create smoke-free policies.

o        Local elected leaders across our state listened to the Surgeon General’s warning and the input of their constituents when they passed smoke-free workplace ordinances that protect the health and quality of life for their communities. It would be a shame to lose these important ordinances.


  • We support local control of smoke-free workplace and public place laws meaning we support the power of city, town, and county governments to set their own smoke-free ordinances for their communities.
    • Local control is needed in order to enact meaningful smoke-free workplace laws at the local level where policymakers are most responsive to their constituents’ concerns and less influenced by tobacco industry lobbyists and campaign contributions.
    • In the 11 S.C. communities that passed smoke-free workplace laws, all governing bodies engaged in an interactive and thorough decision-making processes with their citizens.  Public forums, town meetings, and other events helped educate the community and its leaders.   


What’s next:  1.  We will keep working on local ordinances until the court reaches a decision.  Every day a smoke-free ordinance is in effect in a community is another day health is protected.  It could be months before we get a decision so we are encouraging those communities considering smoke-free workplace ordinances to carry forward with their efforts to protect the health of their workers, residents and visitors.  


Statewide law?  We support nothing less than a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law that includes ALL workplaces and affirms local governments’ right to pass smoke-free laws.  We do not believe that our legislature will pass such legislation during this upcoming session, which is why we will continue to advocate for local smoke-free workplace ordinances until the Supreme Court rules.


Background:  Two local smoke-free workplace ordinances have been legally challenged in our state, and judges reached two different conclusions.  In Sullivan’s Island, a circuit court judge upheld the law saying it is within a municipality’s authority to make regulations that protect the health of a community by passing a smoke-free workplace law.  In Greenville, a circuit court judge ruled against the city’s comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinance.


Municipalities that have passed smoke-free workplace laws:

Aiken County, Beaufort County, Bluffton, Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head Island, Liberty, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Surfside Beach

Clemson has passed first reading of a smoke-free workplace law.

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