McDuffie County business owners got an unexpected email on Tuesday morning. It was a chance for them to have a say in a pivotal issue facing the county.
The message -- written by Partners for Success Executive Director Mary Ann Kotras and forwarded by Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn Gilbert -- was a survey asking if chamber members support the ordinance presented to the County Commission that would prohibit smoking in all enclosed public places in McDuffie County.
"We had just been asked to poll the businesses to see where they stand," Dr. Kotras said. "Then at some point if we have the public hearing, then we can at least say that we've polled the businesses."
The group that presented the ordinance for consideration is standing on evidence from studies showing second-hand smoke to be a health risk. They are anticipating a positive response to the survey.
"We're hoping that with the poll of the businesses that we'll get a good response and an accurate response of where the community stands," said Dr. Kotras, whose non-profit organization includes an arm of the Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition.
"I'm hoping that at least if we get enough businesses, including the restaurants, if they can say that yes they are interested in having a smoking ban ordinance that that would have some impact on the commission," Dr. Kotras said.
County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton mentioned the possibility of polling restaurant owners to see how those most affected by an ordinance feel during a work session last month.
Responses to the survey are due back to the Chamber by Jan. 7. Commissioners will discuss possible times and dates for holding a public hearing on the smoking ban at their Jan. 3 work session.
Staff Writer Jerrie Macintire contributed to this story.