Soldotna eyes ban on smoking in restaurants

Posted: Monday, August 12, 2002

ANCHORAGE - The city of Soldotna is considering a ban on cigarette smoking within its restaurants, following the lead of Anchorage, Juneau and Barrow.

But unlike those cities, which bar smoking in most public places, Soldotna is limiting its proposal to restaurants.

The ordinance was introduced July 24, and the 7-member City Council opted to wait until its Sept. 11 meeting for a hearing and vote.

"I think one reason we set the hearing so late was so we didn't try to impose anything on restaurant owners till they got through with the busy season," said City Manager Tom Boedeker.

Most diners are put off by cigarette smoke, say some council members and area restaurant owners.

Boedeker and councilwomen Lisa Parker and Audrey Porter said they have heard a smattering of comments, mostly in favor of the restriction.

Other cities have adopted similar or more restrictive smoking rules, prompting varying degrees of public backlash.

Anchorage banned smoking in most enclosed public places in 2000 amid concern that restaurant business would suffer. But a report by the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies said the change had no effect on hospitality businesses in its first year.

The Anchorage law exempts bars, pull-tab shops and bingo parlors. But Anchorage pool hall owners were included and said business was hurt by the new law.

In Juneau, a recent nonsmoking ordinance included pull-tab outlets, and owners complained last spring that they were losing customers.

Barrow's broad smoking ban in public places, prompted an initial letter-writing campaign, but opposition quickly evaporated, said Barrow Mayor Edith Vorderstrasse.

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