South Carolina bill looks to ban local tobacco regulations

South Carolina bill looks to ban local tobacco regulations
(Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Teen vaping is being called an epidemic. Now South Carolina lawmakers are working to reduce the number of teenagers turning to e-cigarettes.

A bill in the State House is taking aim at the issue on a state level. The House voted 69-37 to pass a proposal that prevents local bans on ingredients, flavors, or the licensing of tobacco products. Supporters say uniform statewide rules would prevent a patchwork of regulations that differ from city to city.

“I see no problems coming up with a uniform state rule on it that says, ‘OK this is the way you do it,'" said Johnny Vaught, Horry County Councilman.

Vaught said he’s in favor of the legislation, and says when it comes to widespread issues like teen vaping, he believes the state should have the power to regulate.

“To me, one of the things that it’s addressing is supposedly underage smoking. Underage smoking is not a problem that’s specific to Horry County or probably any other county. It’s specific to the state and probably the whole country," said Vaught.

But opponents of the bill argue it’s a matter of public safety, and say statewide rules would strip the power cities and counties have over local issues.

“They would remove local authority to protect the local community and that’s just, that’s appalling from our perspective," said Tigerron Wells, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

Whether control is in the hands of the state or local governments, both sides seem to agree addressing teen smoking is a priority.

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.