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West Columbia, Cayce enact smoking bans; Irmo says no

Add Cayce and West Columbia - but not Irmo - to the list of Midlands communities that ban smoking in stores, offices and other workplaces.

Leaders in the three communities made their decisions late Tuesday about proposals to limit lighting up inside.

The outcome means five of the 14 municipalities in Lexington County have adopted smoking bans that largely mirror restrictions in unincorporated areas.

"We've got the bulk of the county covered, but we still have a job," said Louis Eubank, executive director of the S.C. Tobacco Collaborative, an anti-smoking group. "We'd like to see complete compliance."

Slightly different bans begin June 1 in Cayce and West Columbia.

West Columbia exempted from the restrictions private clubs and businesses where the owner works. Cayce didn't do that.

Cayce City Council approved the ban 3-2. Councilmen Steve Isom and Rick Myers opposed the plan.

West Columbia City Council approved its restrictions 5-4. Council members Jack Harmon, Tommy Parler, Cathy Shannon and B.J. Unthank opposed the ban.

The push for limits in Irmo lost a second time 3-2, with Mayor John Gibbons and council members Kathy Condom and Hardy King again opposed.

But Condom said she is willing to accept the idea if penalties for violations focus on fining smokers instead of possible loss of a business's license to operate.

"How we enforce it is my problem," she said. "We need to go after smokers in most cases."

Other communities with a smoking ban are Lexington, Pine Ridge and Springdale. A proposal is pending in South Congaree.

Most of the communities without a ban are home to 1,000 people or fewer. Only Batesburg-Leesville and Irmo are among larger ones without a ban.

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