My Turn: Juneau already offers enough options for non-smokers

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2004

In your Sunday editorial (Feb. 8) you state that the time has come for the smoking ban to care for the worker. No one has asked the worker what he or she wants. Most of those workers have signed petitions not to enact the smoking ban. Even those that don't smoke have signed this petition. They knew that when they took the job that establishment was a smoking facility. All of us know the hazards of smoking or the effects of secondhand smoke, but those of us that work in that smoky environment exercised our freedom of choice by doing so.

Your concern that the non-smoker has no place to go is false. There are 46 businesses in Juneau listed as restaurants. Today (Wednesday) I was able to contact 39 of these businesses; 21 are non-smoking, one smoking allowed, 12 of the 39 have a bar or separate room separated from the dining room. All of these businesses run a smoke-free dining room, four have no-smoking bars and in the remaining eight smoking in the bar is allowed. One business even rents a separate building space to allow its customers to smoke. There are 12 businesses listed as bars or cocktail lounges. Nine of these offer no food, two offer food in the bar with smoking and one has a separate room for food only - no smoking or drinking. The above survey does not take into account the private clubs. There are many choices for a person to make.

The Juneau Clean Air Coalition and Empire want businesses to be on equal footing. It's not possible - we're in competition with each other. That's why we all differ in what we offer. My customers should dictate what I offer, not JCAC, the Empire or government. If the majority of my customers want non-smoking then I'll change it, not you.

You cite reports of how businesses in other parts of the world have not lost business, but you don't cite the report from California that shows businesses lost anywhere from 20 percent to going out of business. One church in California lost 50 percent of its bingo revenue because of the smoking ban. I have customers that have told me they will stay home if they can't smoke here. I don't see JCAC or the Empire coming here to make up for lost revenue. Leave well enough alone. Right now there are enough places for non-smokers and smokers to go.

There are also places where the non-smoking worker can get a job if they desire. JCAC complains that the young worker between 16 and 21 can't get a job because of smoke. That is not true. Those same workers can't get jobs because of the liquor environment, not smoke.

Juneau residents should encourage the Assembly not to pass the ban in fairness to all. Right now each one of us has a place to go that caters to our needs.

• James A. Reid is an administrator for the Juneau Moose Lodge No. 700. He has lived in Juneau since 1977.

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