The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
City Council, December 18
A smoke- free zone around Roper and MUSC
Some Council members think it infringes on civil rightsMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s meeting was light. It would also have been a very short meeting but for one item – the creation of a no-smoking area around the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Roper Hospital. Both hospitals sought the creation of the no- smoking zone and were supported by First Federal, which has a branch in the proposed area, Ashley Hall, and a neighborhood association. A majority of Council members supported the request of the hospitals, but nearly all members had some reservations or qualifications for their support.
Representatives of both hospitals addressed Council last night. Both hospitals have a tobacco free environment with policies that prohibit the use of tobacco products on their properties. However, “while these policies have benefited many, the migration of smokers to public sidewalks and properties adjacent to Roper and MUSC created an unhealthy environment for those who must walk through these areas to visit our campuses as well as for private citizens and business owners living and working near our campuses. While we have asked employees to respect our neighbors, and not smoke in front of their properties or leave discarded cigarette trash, we continue to have problems in the area that are not owned by either MUSC or Roper”.
The speakers also noted that enforcement of the no -smoking ban would lie with the MUSC Department of Public Safety and Medical Center Safety and Security. They would focus primarily on education and public awareness. Ticketing, with a fine of $10 to $25 would be used only as a last resort. No call was expected to be made on the City Police Department.
Council member Alexander was the first to speak on the proposed ordinance, and clearly he did not like it. He sought a deferral of the issue because of the little notice –less than a week - given to Council members about the proposal. He thought the issue needed more time for consideration. He also added that he was concerned about the infringement on citizens’ liberties and rights. These were public sidewalks given over to “private entities”. Council member Lewis followed. He supported the plan but could not see why the non- smoking zone had to be so large. Why didn’t it stop at Bee Street to the north? Why did it have to extend to the expressway?
All Council members present spoke to the issue. In the final voting, only 4 Council members supported the motion to defer the issue - Council members Alexander, Mitchell, Riegel and Wagner. With the motion defeated, Council went on to consider the proposed ordinance which passed with a 7 to 4 vote Although some of the Council members in the majority had reservations about the boundaries of the non-smoking zone, they supported the creation of a zone but in the understanding that the boundaries would be further studied by the time of the Second Reading. The four members who supported the deferral, and who subsequently opposed the ordinance, had reservations because of the infringement of civil liberties.
The ordinance as it presently stands prohibits smoking on the following streets and sidewalks;
- Calhoun Street, (North and South sides) from Fourth Street to Rutledge Avenue;
- Rutledge Avenue, (East and West sides) from Calhoun Street to Doughty Street;
- Doughty Street, (North and South sides) from Rutledge Avenue to Ashley Avenue, from Courtenay Drive to Jonathan Lucas Street;
- Ashley Avenue, (East and West sides) from Calhoun Street to Bee Street;
- Bee Street, (North and South sides) from Ashley Avenue To Cherry Street;
- Cherry Street, (East and West sides) from Bee St. to Septima Clark Parkway;
- Courtenay Drive, ( East and West sides) from Septima Clark Parkway to Calhoun Street;
- Wescott Street, (East and West sides) from Septima Clark Parkway to Bee Street;
- Septima Clark Parkway / Calhoun St, from Cherry Street to President Street ;
- Ehrhardt Drive, (East and West sides) from Bee Street to Doughty Street;
- President Street, (East and West sides) from Cannon Street to Doughty Street/ Jonathan Lucas Street;
- Jonathan Lucas Street, ( East and West sides/North and South sides) from President Street to Calhoun Street;
- Gadsden Street, (East and West sides) From Calhoun Street, south 200 feet;
- Barre Street, (East and West sides) from Calhoun St., south 325 feet;
- Halsey Blvd.,(East and West sides) from Calhoun St., south 320 feet;
- Fourth Street., (East and West sides) From Calhoun St., south 325 feet;
The smoking prohibition of this section shall not apply within moving motor vehicles.