Assembly committee to consider clean air ordinance

Proposal would limit smoking in public areas

Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2001

A Juneau Assembly committee on Monday will listen to public testimony about a proposed ordinance designed to limit smoking in public places.

The draft ordinance, which was introduced in the Assembly's Human Resources Committee last month, would prohibit smoking in Juneau restaurants, offices, stores, hospitals and other public places.

Mary Becker, a community coordinator at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium who serves on the Juneau Tobacco Prevention Network, said the ordinance would help protect public health.

"It's a real health issue. Secondhand smoke is a killer," she said. "(The ordinance) would protect the rights of non-smokers, but would not prevent smoking."

The ordinance is similar to a measure in place in Anchorage. Juneau residents have been supportive of efforts curb tobacco use, and the airport and many restaurants already are smoke-free, Becker said.

The ordinance would require hotels and motels to designate 75 percent of rooms as non-smoking and would apply to restaurants that serve alcohol. Additionally, smokers would need to light up somewhere where the smoke wouldn't enter the windows, entrances or ventilation systems of a public building, according to the draft measure.

The new limits would not apply to bars, tobacco stores, homes and private rooms in nursing homes.

A person caught smoking in a public place would face a $50 fine under the proposal. It would be up to the city manager to decide how the ordinance would be enforced, with responsibilities likely falling to the city's Community Development Department and/or the Juneau Police Department, City Attorney John Corso said.

Dory Cleveland, who was smoking outside on Seward Street on Saturday afternoon, said she understands why smoking should be off-limits in stores, but the proposal goes too far.

"It's taking a personal decision and making it into a political play," she said. "People should be able to make their own choice."

Assembly member and Human Resources Committee chairman Don Etheridge, who survived a type of cancer called lymphoma, said the ordinance is a good idea.

"People have a right to smoke, but I don't think the right should be inflicted on those that don't," he said.

The committee meeting starts at 6 p.m. Monday at Assembly chambers.

*****

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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