Nobody forced into smoking establishments

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2003

In regards to the current proposal by the Juneau Clean Air Coalition (JCAC) to ban smoking in bars, let me remind everyone this is not really an issue about rights. My establishment resides on private property and is also privately owned and operated. Most people are familiar with the standard signs which read, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." These are very common and I have one posted in my bar.

Thankfully, having to refuse service to someone doesn't happen all that often. However, it's this same basic right to choose that also allows me to decide what kind of establishment I want to run.

I have chosen to operate a business that allows smoking. This is what the current market supports. The market is you, the people of Juneau.

The public is invited to come in and patronize my establishment, but they by no means have to. There is nothing inside, besides the aesthetics, that can't be found elsewhere in town.

The same is true for my employees as well.

They came to me asking to work at my business, knowing that smoking is allowed and that they could work somewhere else if they decided secondhand smoke was unacceptable.

One hundred percent of those who willingly enter my establishment do so because at some point in their life, they made a conscience decision to do so.

Where else can they go, you ask? As of October of this year, there are three full-service bars in Juneau that do not allow smoking in their buildings. In addition, there are two full-service bar/restaurants with separate dining facilities, and at least 15 restaurants offering beer and wine service where smoking is also not allowed. So would it be fair to say there are quite a number of places in town where patrons can not only drink and socialize in a smoke-free environment, but employees in this profession can work in as well? I think so.

If the JCAC has their way, bars will be next on the list of privately owned businesses that will lose the right to decide what kind of establishment they want to run.

The federal government says smoking is legal. People can exercise their right to smoke. Some do, some don't.

Smoking in bars is legal. Some non-smokers come in, some don't. A line must be drawn somewhere and I suggest it be drawn here and now.

Leeann Thomas


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