Senators Vocalize Strong Bipartisan Opposition on Bill That Would Remove Local Power to Protect Children from Tobacco

Senate Bill Would Repeal Freedom of Local Communities to Take Legislative Action to Prevent Kids From Using Deadly Tobacco Products

March 7, 2023

COLUMBIA, SC –March 7, 2023 – Late last week, Sen. McElveen, Sen. Kimpson, and Sen. Senn signed their names to defer a bill that would take away the power of all localities in the state to pass laws that regulate the sale of tobacco products from the typical legislative process due to the strong opposition from lawmakers.  

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in South Carolina has been strongly opposed to the measure and is warning the lawmakers and public on the dangers of preemption bills.  

“Parents shouldn’t be the only ones concerned about the latest efforts regarding tobacco from the legislature. Smoking-related expenditures from the state costs each South Carolina household almost $1,000 a year,” said Beth Johnson, South Carolina Government Relations Director at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “With Big Tobacco spending nearly $200 million marketing in our state annually, we need local laws that protect our kids, not state interference that will take away the freedom of our local elected officials to act.” 

The bill is sponsored by Senate leadership. To continue to move, the bill needs to be pulled from the opposition calendar and set to special order by the Senate Majority Leader or Senate President that would prompt a full vote by the Senate if done.  

“South Carolinians have long valued freedom and liberty,” noted Johnson, referencing the strict bill language to take away the rights of cities to act and that when passed in other states has been difficult to repeal. “We are urging South Carolinians to make their voices heard and let their senators know not to waver to special interest groups like Big Tobacco. It’s time lawmakers protect our freedom, families and pockets like they’ve promised and preserve our right to make local decisions.” 

Over a quarter of South Carolina high school students use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.  

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