During last Monday night's Assembly meeting the city imposed a smoking ban on all bar/restaurants starting January 2005 and January 2008 for bars. A reporter asked me what I was going to do with my business to prepare for the ban. I don't believe it's important to ask owners how they're going to respond to an ordinance that takes away their private business rights and could devastate their livelihood. The important question to ask is: What will the city do?
In the next six months, will they work to offer owners of bar/restaurants low interest rate loans to remodel? Will they even start enforcing the current smoking ordinance? In 2008, will the city have a plan on how to fairly enforce this ordinance not only in bars but plumbing, electrical, and repair shops for example? Will they actively ticket individuals or only bar owners? The bars have their liquor and business licenses at stake. Will they become the scapegoats for this ordinance? In three years will they have installed ashtrays on the sidewalks (the sidewalk ordinance restricts businesses from installing ashtrays) and hired employees to clean up streets and sidewalks so we have a clean city? Will they hire more police officers for the downtown area when patrons of eight bars are pushed out onto the already crowded sidewalks to smoke and mingle with those who are not allowed in bars? This will create a party-like atmosphere on the sidewalks where the majority of the public will have to walk through the smoke and noise. This scenario might be appropriate inside a bar but will negatively affect our tourism industry.
How long before the city starts complaining about the lost tax revenue they will need to make up when bars begin to lose sales? Will they increase the alcohol, property, or tobacco tax, or add a latte tax starting January 2008? This ordinance creates more questions than it answers.
The last thing Juneau needs is another ordinance that is not enforced and pushes all responsibility for enforcement off on the private business owners of this community.
The Assembly passed this ordinance and I expect they will do the responsible thing and spend the time and money now to promote and enforce it.