Soldotna prepares to debate smoking ban law Wednesday

Kenai slated to consider a similar ban

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Soldotna already has seen some back-and-forth discussions about banning cigarette smoking in all public places, but on Wednesday, people will get a first look at the actual proposed law.

Last month, Teens Against Tobacco Use and its parent organization, Peninsula Smoke-free Partnership, made presentations to the Soldotna City Council expressing their displeasure with cigarette smoke in the workplace and other public places.

Some Soldotna business owners followed, expressing their angst over government intrusion into private enterprise.

On Wednesday night, the council is to introduce Ordinance 2009-008, prohibiting smoking in all enclosed public places in Soldotna, all enclosed places of employment, all vehicles owned or controlled by the city and near entrances to enclosed areas of city owned or controlled properties.

The city already bans smoking in restaurants.

Introduced by Councilman Shane Horan, the ordinance is not scheduled for any action, tonight. It appears on the council agenda for introduction only and for setting a public hearing at the council's March 11 meeting.

To prevent cigarette smoke from entering enclosed public places, the ordinance prohibits smoking within 20 feet of entrances to places where smoking is prohibited. Excepted are hospitals and medical clinics, where smoking would be prohibited within 50 feet of entrances.

The proposed ordinance also lists areas where smoking is not prohibited.

Up to 25 percent of hotel and motel sleeping rooms can allow smoking as long as 75 percent of the rooms are permanently designated as nonsmoking rooms.

Smoking also will be allowed in outdoor places of employment except in designated outdoor arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters and public transit waiting areas.

Unless private residences are used for child care, adult care or health care facilities, smoking will not be prohibited.

The ordinance also does not regulate smoking on property owned or controlled by the federal or state government.

The owner, manager or operator of a public place or workplace where smoking would be prohibited, must post "No smoking" signs, according to the ordinance.

Violations of the smoking ban would be punishable by a fine of up to $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $500 for the third. Penalties would kick in after a formal written warning is issued.

Administration of the new law would be the responsibility of the city manager or his designee.

The proposed ordinance, if approved, would be effective March 11.

The city of Kenai is slated to consider a similar ban. A draft of Kenai's ordinance was distributed to Kenai council members at its meeting last week.

At that meeting, Councilman Hal Smalley, who also is a Kenai Peninsula Borough assemblyman, said the borough cannot enact a similar ban without a vote of the people.

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