Smokers will avoid jail time in S.C. town

John O'Brien Sep. 8, 2008, 3:12pm


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - Disobeying the historic ban on smoking in Sullivan's Island, S.C., can't be a criminally punishable offense, the state Supreme Court decided Monday.

Sullivan's Island became the first municipality in South Carolina to ban smoking in all public places, but Beachfront Entertainment, doing business as Bert's Bar, challenged the ban, arguing it was preempted by state law.

Smoking in Sullivan's Island carried a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail.

"Appellants contend the ordinance is invalid because it criminalizes conduct that is not illegal under state law. We agree," says the decision, written by Justice James Moore.

The justices also said nothing in state laws regarding workplace safety indicates that smoking would illegal in the workplace.

The town has recently amended the ordinance, making it a civil violation with a smaller fine, a report by The Associated Press says.

The state Supreme Court upheld a government's right to ban smoking earlier this year.

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