Smoking ban will only inconvenience

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I'm a nonsmoker that does not support the drive to ban smoking in the bars of Juneau. These businesses and their patrons should have the freedom to decide whether they want smoking instead of being forced to stop by some crusade.

The proprietors of these privately owned establishments provide a service for those that are interested in this service. Failure to do so means loss of revenue. Many tourist shops downtown prove this by having to close during the winter for lack of customers. The bars in the same area are open all year long. A smoking ban will mean fewer customers. This will reduce the incomes of these businesses, causing loss of jobs and services. Government will feel the effects, too, by collecting less money because of lost taxes.

The coalition touts their reason to ban smoking in bars is the health hazards of second-hand smoke, especially to the people working there. That sounds like a reasonable concern, but from what I've seen many of these workers also smoke. Those that don't are aware of the hazards and choose to work there anyway. The opinion of these employees about the ban should be an important consideration because their jobs are in jeopardy.

One can state numerous reasons why people go to bars. For many it is to smoke and drink in a social atmosphere. Those that don't like the smoking aspect have the option to enjoy bonding in places providing an environment more to their liking. Banned smokers won't have those options.

A question for the coalition and assembly members in favor of this proposal is: Where are the smokers to go for a cigarette if they can't light up in the bars? It is ludicrous to think they will quit smoking. The only choice for them is to do it outside of the establishments. This will increase congestion on the downtown sidewalks and expose many more people to secondhand smoke. Besides inconvenience, the ban will accomplish nothing.

To the coalition and assembly I offer this suggestion. Allow a bar that wants to solicit smokers, or those not offended by secondhand smoke, to add another placard to their collection that states this fact. Consumers will be the ones who make the decision on whether to do business there instead of some entity that wants to restrict people's freedom of choice.

Mike Allen

Auke Bay

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