Politics & Government

Bluffton Town Council supports Dubois Park smoking ban

Karley McManus pushes son Kaleb, 4, on a swing at Bluffton's DuBois Park on Sept. 18. Bluffton Town Council considered an ordinance Oct. 13 to restrict outdoor smoking in public places. Though she's never had a problem with smokers while at the park, McManus said she would be in favor of regulations prohibiting people from smoking in public places if children are nearby.
Karley McManus pushes son Kaleb, 4, on a swing at Bluffton's DuBois Park on Sept. 18. Bluffton Town Council considered an ordinance Oct. 13 to restrict outdoor smoking in public places. Though she's never had a problem with smokers while at the park, McManus said she would be in favor of regulations prohibiting people from smoking in public places if children are nearby. jkarr@islandpacket.com

The Town of Bluffton is one step closer to stamping out smoking in Dubois Park.

Town council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a measure that would restrict tobacco use in the park.

The code change is pending a final vote next month. If it passes, violators would face a fine of up to $100.

The council's decision "is for the kids," councilman Larry Toomer said. "There are plenty of other places for people to smoke if you want to smoke."

Initially, town staffers drafted an ordinance that would ban smoking in portions of all current and future parks with playground equipment.

That proposal was amended by the council to include only Dubois Park.

"I don't think we have to have one rule that fits the entire town," Toomer said.

Other town-managed areas such as Oyster Factory Park, which could have playgrounds built in the future, would be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Councilman Ted Huffman was the only member of the body to vote against the measure.

"Make no mistake, I don't want smoking around children," he said, but people should have the right to smoke in public places such as parks, as long as they do so away from playground areas.

Huffman said he could support a plan that would ban smoking within a 50-foot radius of playground equipment. In Dubois Park, that would mean smoking would still be allowed near the gazebo area.

Other members of the council argued that such a restriction would be difficult to enforce and would still subject children to secondhand smoke around the park's restrooms.

"I'd like to see the whole park be non-smoking," councilwoman Karen Lavery said.

If the smoking ban were to pass on a final vote next month, it would be the first of its kind in the area.

In Beaufort, on Hilton Head Island and in Port Royal, smoking is banned in indoor spaces such as offices, government buildings, bars and restaurants, but not in parks.

Beaufort County-managed park rules restrict smoking, but those are not officially part of county code.

Statewide, several municipalities do restrict smoking in parks and on beaches.

Those are: Atlantic Beach, Cheraw, Clover, Hartsville, Lexington, Saluda County, Sumter, Surfside Beach, Tega Cay and Williamston, according to information from the S.C. Tobacco-Free Collaborative.

Follow reporter Lucas High at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.

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