Juneau Assembly bans smoking in city bus shelters

Ordinance will go in effect in 30 days

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Score another victory for the anti-smoking advocates and the Juneau Clean Air Coalition.

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The Juneau Assembly ruled unanimously Monday night to add bus shelters to list of areas where smoking is prohibited. The amendment to the smoking ordinance will go in effect in 30 days.

The Juneau Clean Air Coalition and the Juneau affiliate of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence brought the amendment to the attention of the city after it noticed a loophole caused by the wording in the existing ordinance.

"What's interesting about this little piece is that everyone thought that bus shelters were supposed to be included," said Wendy Hamilton, tobacco program coordinator for NCADD-Juneau.

The original ordinance was vague in that it prohibits smoking in "enclosed public places," while bus shelters are not considered completely enclosed, Hamilton said.

"It's certainly a captive audience when you are at a bus stop - especially in the rain," Juneau Clean Air Coalition member Joan Cahill said.

Gene Miller told the Assembly that he frequently rides the bus and described the vicinity around certain shelters as "gross" because of secondhand cigarette smoke that riders are exposed to. He said smoking should be prohibited at bus shelters because his son and many other young children ride the city bus and are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke at the shelters.

No members of the public testified in favor of allowing smoking to continue in bus shelters.

Hamilton said secondhand smoke is classified as a "Group A carcinogen" that is known to cause cancer in humans.

"Nationwide there are 450,000 smoking-related deaths each year. Of those deaths, 53,800 are related to secondhand smoke," she said, adding that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.

Hamilton said she supports prohibiting smoking in bus shelters because it is a public health issue, not a personal rights issue that smokers argue it to be.

"People can smoke, it's just that it's a public health issue if you force someone else to breath your carcinogens," she said. "People standing in a bus shelter should not be exposed to smoke."

The Assembly voted in 2004 to prohibit smoking in local bars and restaurants beginning Jan. 2, 2008.

In other business at the regular Assembly meeting Monday night, an ordinance appropriating to the manager the sum of $115,460 for the Juneau International Airport Runway Safety Area Environmental Impact Statement Project was unanimously approved. All but $2,960 of the funds is from a federal grant, with the remaining funds coming from a state grant. Monday's appropriation brings the total cost to date for the EIS to more than $4.1 million.

The Assembly also unanimously approved an $81,000 art project to be permanently displayed in the courtyard of Floyd Dryden Middle School. The project by Shelia Wyne is funded due to the state law requiring that 1 percent of construction costs for school projects to go toward the procurement and installation of art.

• Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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