Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Once again your hard work has paid off and the Tobacco lobby has been defeated. The proposed law was not voted out of committee yesterday in the Statehouse, and assuming there is no furthur action in the next week the 9 local municipalities that have gone smoke free will be allowed to continue being smoke free.

The State along with almost every other outlet picked up the AP article.

Here is the Action Alert from SFAN

Smokefree Action Network
Action for Smokefree Workplaces

For Immediate Release - May 29, 2007
Dan Carrigan, Phone: (843) 509-5272
Dianne Wilson, Phone: (843) 871-9439 - Email:

house JUDICIARY COMMITTEE removes PREEMPTION measure from School smoking bill
Industry allies intent on blocking home rule of local smokefree laws

Columbia, SC - Health advocates and citizens beat back a second attempt by the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee to pass amendments added to a bill that would have eliminated all nine local smokefree laws passed in the state in the last year.

Rep. G. Murrell Smith, Jr., of Sumter added the preemption amendment to the bill, S.103, in the Criminal Laws Subcommittee on May 23rd. The bill was originally intended to limit smoking on school grounds.

In an earlier attempt on May 9th, the House Judiciary Committee sent another bill, H.3119, back to subcommittee, effectively killing it, after complaints from public health groups. The committee's second attempt today was met with even more resistance.

The American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society all oppose preemption of local smokefree laws, because these laws tend to leave more workers exposed to secondhand smoke.

"Preemption is nationally known as the cigarette industry's tool to keep the public out of the debate over smokefree laws," said Dan Carrigan of the Smoke-Free Action Network. "Today the industry came to the legislature to take away the hard-fought laws already decided on by local communities, and they failed."

Events played like a sort of legislative theater, with industry allies failing to accept that they had been beaten.

First, Rep. Walt McLeod, who supports home rule decisions, requested to have preemption considered separately, which won with one dissenting vote. Next, the committee voted to remove the preemption language entirely.

Then, Rep. James E. Stewart, who also favors local governments' right to decide, introduced an amendment that specifically clarified that local governments do indeed have the right to create their own smokefree laws. The Stewart amendment then passed by all but two dissenting votes, Rep. G. Murrell Smith, Jr., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. James H. Harrison (Richland.)

When Stewart's amendment to protect local control passed, Rep. G. Murrell Smith threatened to filibuster the committee, saying, "I hope you got your bags packed because you're going to be here all night. This is just ridiculous to pass this thing."

At this point, Rep. Garry R. Smith (Greenville) walked out of the room to leave the committee without the required minimum number of attendees for a quorum, at which time Rep. G. Murrell Smith, Jr., called for a quorum, in a procedural move to force the chairman to adjourn the meeting, rather than allow the bill to move forward with language supporting local governments' ability to pass smokefree laws.

Health groups remain vigilant, as the same preemption measure could re-emerge in either the House or Senate prior to the end of the legislative session. "It's a long and continuous battle, but we're hopeful that all communities throughout the state will be able to pass their own smokefree laws to protect all workers," said Dianne Wilson of the South Carolina African American Tobacco Control Network.

The legislature adjourns on June 7th.

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