Sitka ban keeps kids from places that allow smoking

SITKA — Children can no longer go into Sitka businesses that allow smoking, even for one-time, non-smoking events.

The measure passed by the assembly this week forbids children from entering those premises if smoking is ever allowed at the place of business, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported.

It clarifies a 2005 law banning smoking in public places. But bars and clubs can allow smoking as long as no one under the age of 18 is ever in the club.

The local American Legion post allows smoking, and hosted a Christmas party for children. The event was a non-smoking affair.

But council members have now amended the city law so that bars and clubs can’t designate themselves as non-smoking venues for special events and allow smoking on other days.

Assembly member Phyllis Hackett said the purpose was to clarify intent of the 2005 law. She said she believes the original law intended to prohibit children from entering smoking establishments. She said others also believed that was the intent, and pointed to the Elks Lodge, which banned smoking so children could continue to come into the building.

“They chose to go smoke-free because they understood the intent of this,” Hackett said.

American Legion manager Margaret Peterson called the measure unnecessary.

“The only thing that it’s going to do is stop a three-hour Christmas party for us once a year,” she said.

David Tjomsland said the Assembly was overstepping its bound.

“You’re micromanaging things that a parent should do. So let’s do city things, and let parents do parent things,” Tjomsland said.

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