The fate of a smoking ban is still up in the air, but commissioners are closer than ever to putting the issue to a vote after a meeting earlier this week.
The McDuffie County Commission discussed several changes to the proposed McDuffie County Smoke-free Air Act during a work session on Monday night.
Commissioners tentatively decided that the ordinance could receive an up-or-down vote on March 15.
Commissioner Bob Farr suggested waiting until after a vote on a similar state bill currently circulating in the legislature.
Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said by their meeting date, the state bill should have been voted upon; if it isn't passed, commissioners would then decide on a ban in the unincorporated areas of the county.
"We are very pleased that the board of commissioners has agreed to consider this," said Mary Ann Kotras, executive director of McDuffie County Partners for Success who is helping organize the effort in support of the ban.
After the Jan. 31 public hearing, several commissioners asked supporters of the ban to revise the proposed ordinance to encompass fewer businesses and loosen some of the requirements such as posting no smoking signs on all business entrances.
"We revised the ordinance so that it would be something in which we could meet on common ground," Dr. Kotras said.
"We are very pleased, from our standpoint, in terms of what the commissioners are willing to accept."
Chairman Newton made a few suggestions, and a revised version was presented to commissioners during Monday's work session.
Commissioner Fred Favors asked during the work session that several of the deletions be added back into the ordinance.
He suggested that all retail stores be included in the ban as well as food production operations and marketing establishments.
County Manager Don Norton also said grocery stores should be included as well as county vehicles at all times, not only when transporting non-government employees.
"To me when it was presented as a ban in the dining areas of restaurants, the closer we stayed to that the more reasonable it seemed to be," Chairman Newton said. "As long as the right provisions are in there ... I don't have a problem voting for it. If retail establishments and all that stays in there, then I may have somewhat of a problem voting for it."
The commission plans to vote on each section of the ordinance individually; then the entire document will receive a vote.