Say what you will about the guy — and we’ve had a few things to say about him on the editorial pages of The State — but he just saved a lot of lives by switching his vote on Columbia’s smoking ban. By this change, he now forms a majority for a total ban, which is the only rational and moral approach:
Councilman to switch vote on smoking ban
City Councilman E. W. Cromartie said this morning he is now supporting a total smoking ban for Columbia, all but ensuring the a ban that includes bars will pass when council votes next week.
Cromartie, the most senior member of council whose district includes the bars and restaurants of the Vista, announced his decision during a public hearing today on the smoking ordinance.
“As the capitol city, we are leaders. We have to lead,” Cromartie said.
Opponents of the ordinance like Tony Snell, who owns Club Fusion in the Vista, are not giving up.
Cromartie has agreed to meet with Snell next week.
Snell meanwhile is mounting a campaign to have Mayor Bob Coble recuse himself from the vote, since his law firm Nexsen Pruett represents tobacco companies
“If the mayor recuses himself, it becomes a split vote and it is defeated,” Snell said.
Discussion of a banning smoking in bars reignited recently after Cromartie said he might reconsider his vote. A ban in public places, including restaurants, was passed in 2006. Bars, defined as businesses that make 85 percent of their revenue from alcohol sales, were excluded at that time.
Cromartie and council members Daniel Rickenmann, Kirkman Finlay and Sam Davis voted for a compromise plan to exclude bars.
Coble, Anne Sinclair and Tameika Isaac Devine voted against the compromise.
— Adam Beam
So God bless him for that. If he never does another good thing as councilman, he’ll deserve credit for this one…
Now we just need Richland and Lexington counties and other governments in our politically fragmented community to go along. But this is a start.