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Tobacco Prevention & Control


Smoke-Free Businesses

The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report said “there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”  The report further found that non-smoking sections and high-tech ventilation systems are ineffective for protecting people against the toxins found in secondhand smoke.

The EPA also concluded a nonsmoking section is not enough. While exhaust systems may remove the smoky haze and odor, the systems do nothing to remove the 4,000+ toxic chemicals that have been identified in secondhand smoke.

If you’re looking to shop, eat or do business in a smoke-free environment, the following towns, cities or counties have adopted local smoke-free ordinances. This means all workplaces (including restaurants and bars) in that area are smoke-free to the public.

Aiken County
Atlantic Beach
Beaufort County
Charleston County
Edisto Beach
Fort Mill
Goose Creek
Hilton Head Island
Isle of Palms
Lancaster County
Lexington County
Mount Pleasant
North Augusta
N. Myrtle Beach
Pine Ridge
Richland County
Rock Hill
South Congaree
Surfside Beach
Sullivan’s Island
West Columbia
York County

To access the map of these smoke-free municipalities in South Carolina, click:


Going Smoke-Free

Without smoke-free ordinances in all local areas, some restaurant owners and managers struggle with the decision to go 100% smoke-free and are often stunned when they learn that they won’t actually lose business by adopting a smoke-free policy.

picture of a calculatorIf our restaurant goes smoke-free, we'll lose business.
On the contrary, research has shown that adopting smoke-free policies doesn’t have a negative effect on restaurant sales. Almost 74 percent of South Carolinians are nonsmokers and an increasing number say that they prefer dining in restaurants that are smoke-free.

Our restaurant has a non-smoking section. That will eliminate health risks, right?
Even with smoking and nonsmoking sections separated by a solid partition, secondhand smoke is still a serious risk to customers. With over 4,000 toxic chemicals in cigarettes, there is no safe level of exposure. Each year, 53,000 American nonsmokers die from secondhand smoke.

Our smoking section is ventilated. Isn't that all the protection non-smokers need?
Ventilation systems are designed to remove the odor of smoke rather than the dangerous disease-causing chemicals and gases in the air. Just because the nonsmoking section isn't hazy with smoke doesn't mean customers aren't at risk, especially small children, the elderly and people with breathing conditions like asthma.

I've heard it's expensive to implement a nonsmoking policy.
Going smoke-free is easy and costs very little! Explaining your new policy to your customers doesn't require anything except showing your commitment to smoke-free air and posting smoke-free signs in prominent places.

If my restaurant goes smoke-free, we'll lose our regulars.
Smoke-free restaurants report that even their most dedicated smokers return after a short period of time. And the smokers you may lose as customers will be made up for with nonsmoking customers who've heard about your new policy and are eager to eat in a smoke-free environment.

The health of our staff isn't my problem. They make a choice to come work here. I can't be held financially accountable for their welfare.
Restaurant employees are the work force most heavily exposed to secondhand smoke. South Carolina's waiters and waitresses, hostesses and chefs are 50% more likely to develop lung cancer than people in other professions. If you knowingly allow your employees to work in a dangerous environment, you could be held financially responsible for any future health problems they may develop as a result of secondhand smoke.

Okay, I understand how a restaurant could go smoke-free. But my restaurant also has a great bar. There's no way a bar can be smoke-free.
Seventy-four percent of South Carolinians don't smoke and the same figure applies to bar-goers. When nonsmokers are asked why they don't visit bars more often, smoke is the number one answer. In fact, many nonsmokers say they'd go out to bars more if they were smoke-free.

Smoke-Free Building signSo, maybe going smoke-free won't cost me anything. On the other hand, it won't save me money either.
Going smoke-free will save you money. Savings in maintenance and repairs, upkeep and insurance including fire insurance premiums. You’ll also save with your employee’s overall health, productivity and loss of work. 

I don’t want to be the only one. No other South Carolina restaurants are going smoke-free.
You’re not alone.  As of July 1, 2013, 51 municipalities in SC will have implemented smoke-free ordinances at the local level that provide for all worksites to include restaurants and bars to be smoke-free.


Smoke Free Homes & Vehicles

Two of the worst places you can smoke in front of your child are in your home and automobile. Both are enclosed spaces that put your child much closer to your secondhand smoke.

  • Thirty-eight percent of children aged 2 months to 5 years are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home
  • In South Carolina, 240,000 kids breathe in secondhand smoke at home

Source: CDC, BRFSS

So, if you haven’t been able to quit smoking, take it outside

  • Children of smokers are more likely to suffer from upper respiratory infections, bronchitis and pneumonia each year
  • Children of smokers have more ear infections, hearing problems and asthma than children of nonsmokers
  • Children of smokers are more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Source: Pediatrics

By the age of five, the children of smokers have inhaled the equivalent of 102 packs of cigarettes.

  • Infants whose mothers smoke are almost four times as likely to be hospitalized
  • Children who live in households where three or more packs of cigarettes are smoked per day are more than four times as likely to need ear tubes placed to prevent frequent ear infections
  • Infants with two parents who smoke are more than twice as likely to have had pneumonia or bronchitis

Source: AAP
Maricopa County Department of Public Health

Always smoke outside, away from any doors, windows or HVAC units at your home and never smoke in your automobile, especially when you’re carrying passengers.

Take the Smoke Free Home and Auto Pledge!

Click here to download a smoke-free pledge card and certificate for making your home and vehicle smoke-free!
You can also take the pledge by calling 1-866-SMOKEFREE.


Smoke Free Colleges & Universities

Deciding on a college can be a complicated process. One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about is your child’s health. The best way to protect them from secondhand smoke is to completely eliminate the exposure. Some tips are:

  • Look for colleges that have comprehensive smoke-free policies that should include the entire campus, if not;
  • Look for colleges that have comprehensive smoke-free policies that include residence halls, all public places on the school’s campus and have entrance restrictions for smoking;
  • At the least, check to make sure the residence hall he or she chooses is smoke-free.
  • Read over the housing contract carefully and make sure your child won’t be assigned a roommate who smokes.

Model Tobacco-Free Policy for Colleges & Universities (pdf)
Tobacco-Free Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) (pdf)


Tobacco-Free Schools

Guide for Creating 100 Percent Tobacco-Free Schools in South Carolina (pdf)


Smoke-Free Healthcare Facilities

S.C. hospitals have realized the importance of promoting a positive health message by adopting and enforcing 100 percent tobacco-free policies for their buildings AND grounds to help ensure protection from secondhand smoke exposure.

Click here for success story Up in Smoke: Tobacco-Free Policies Eliminate Smoking on Hospital Grounds (pdf)

For more information about smoke-free healthcare facilities, colleges & universities, worksites, faith-based organizations and recreational facilities, contact the program at (803) 545-4463.