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Kenai Peninsula Fair goes smoke-free

Fair patrons can now breathe easy

Posted: August 15, 2013 - 8:31pm  |  Updated: August 16, 2013 - 8:18am

It is that time of year, the aromas of kettle corn, hot dogs and funnel cakes will be in the air Friday through Sunday the Kenai Peninsula Fair in Ninilchik.

One smell that won’t be wafting across fairground is cigarette smoke.

The Kenai Peninsula Fair Association Board approved a policy on May 16, which went into effect June 1, to make the fairgrounds a smoke-free workplace.

The Kenai Peninsula Fair’s policy follows the smoke-free efforts of the Alaska State Fair, which went smoke-free in 2011.

Lara McGinnis, Kenai Peninsula Fair manager, wrote in a press release that the smoke-free fair affirms a family friendly atmosphere, reducing the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle and protects the public and fair workers from smoking and tobacco related litter and pollution.

“Eighty percent of our litter patrol is done by 4-H youth and it is not fair to ask them to pick up cigarette butts dropped on the ground by irresponsible smokers. It’s just not in line with our mission statement and the message we want to give our youth,” she said.

Jenny Olendorff, Program Coordinator with Peninsula Smoke-free Partnership, said fair goers will be aware of the new policy with bright banner signs at both entrances and 10 to 12 metal signs throughout the fair.

Olendorff said the fair has also advertised with local media outlets to create awareness about the new policy.

“We want the public to go there knowing what’s going on,” Olendorff said.

Fairs across the nation have chosen to take the smoke-free route. The Minnesota State Fair, held in St. Paul, adopted a smoke free policy in 2013. In 2012, Minnesota television station KARE11 reported a toddler had been accidently poked in the eye by a passerby’s lit cigarette and that sparked a debate about the need to have smoke-free fairgrounds.

Many businesses across the Kenai Peninsula have voluntarily chosen to go smoke free in the past several years. Olendorff said because the fair grounds are a workplace for many, the policy just made sense.

She believes the lack of public smoking has helped with the decrease of smokers in Alaska.

“What we have noticed on a state level, is that, if you look at statistics dating back to 1995 and 1996, adult smoking rates in Alaska have dropped from 28 percent in 1996 to 20.4 percent in 2010,” she said.

She noted that rates have also dropped with the high school aged smokers.

“Among Alaska high schoolers, in 1995 the high school smoking rate was 37 percent and in 2011 it was down to 14.1 percent,” she said.

She said both the drop in adult and high school aged smoking is a positive step in the right direction.

“So we know that good tobacco prevention control policies and programs work,” Olendorff said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we know that they work.”

To spread the word, she said the Peninsula Smoke-Free Partnership will have a booth under the BP tent near the main entrance.

“Peninsula Smoke-Free Partnership will have a presence there. Typically when we go to the fair or health fairs or any other event, we have education and advocacy materials available and we also promote Alaska’s tobacco quit line,” she said.

Olendorff‘s is passionate about helping Alaskans quite, mostly because she knows first-hand what it is like to be a smoker. She said she fought addiction with tobacco, beginning in college. She was finally able to give up the habit twenty years later in 1998.

“We have known since 1964 since the first surgeons general report that (smoking) is bad for you. It’s not that I didn’t know that,” she said. “I considered myself a social smoker,” she said.

She said that the fair’s smoke free policy will be good for those affected by second-hand smoke.

“Second hand smoke obeys all the laws of physics. It is kind of like peeing in a pool… Particularly when smokers gather in a small concentrated area,” she said.

“No matter where you are or who is exposed to it,” she said. “It is what it is.”

Also, she said cigarette butts are the most littered item in America, the small items are made of plastic and do not biodegrade.

“It is kind of a socially accepted for of litter,” she said.

Smokers who wish to partake will find a designated smoking area near the rodeo grounds and in the beer garden.

Sara J. Hardan can be reached at

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DaniGirl 08/16/13 - 02:29 pm
Smoke Free?

I do respect the decision to go smoke free. I do think an area for smokers should be created. I am uncomfortable and confused by their statement "smoke-free fair affirms a family friendly atmosphere, reducing the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle and protects the public and fair workers" THEY HAVE A BEER GARDEN!!! Isn't that a contradiction?! So you are at the fair with children in a smoke free friendly heathy environment, while adult(s) are drinking alcohol. What sort of example is this setting for a heathy example. These people then get in the vehicle with their children, drive home after drinking. Placing themselves, the children and others on the road in danger. It is there choice to drink yes but it is also my choice to smoke. Basically, they make more money off the drinkers then the smokers.

Sam Von Pufendorf
Sam Von Pufendorf 08/16/13 - 02:50 pm

I somewhat agree with your post. However, I do have one point of contention. A person, no matter how civic minded, can not smoke responsibly. With a little planning and preparedness, a person can drink responsibly. Taking measures such as limiting your consumption or having a designated driver sets an example for youth. Not so much than drinking to oblivion or drinking in general is ok, but that consumption can be done responsibly without posing a risk to the public at large. Will this happen with every drinker in attendance? Probably not! But those who choose to drink and drive irresponsibly should be held accountable for their poor judgement. Those who drink and drive with others, especially children in their vehicle should be prosecuted to the full measure of the law, NO EXCEPTIONS!

s2wheel 08/16/13 - 05:13 pm
Dani I agree 100 present with

Dani I agree 100 present with you and people that do have a drinking problem will not drink responsibly Alaska has a teen drinking problem and it comes from the actions of adults besides someone that is struggling with alcohol addiction is going to have a hard time it's not a bar it's supposed to be a fair

Suss 08/16/13 - 06:51 pm
Last Sentence is not Smokefree

"Smokers who wish to partake will find a designated smoking area near the rodeo grounds and in the beer garden'.

Please cool your jets, they are not missing out on the alcohol nicotine crowd. Salmonstock was far from smokefree, and there might be a few spliff remnants for the crowd to find, so if you do, please contact Lost & Found. If you attended Salmonstock 2013 and lost an item (or perhaps you found an item) and need to know who to be in touch with, please call the offices of Renewable Resources.

cheapersmokes 08/18/13 - 01:44 pm
You think so!

Do you really think I am going to give even a little tinkers damn about your stupid policy on smoke-free! I will continue to smoke whenever and wherever I feel like it and challenge any government agency to give me a ticket for it. I will get tobacco industry lawyers to handle the jury trial and take the case to the Supreme Court if need be just to show you people that you cannot legislate against something that has paid for our Revolutionary War to give us our independence from the Queen and England. Won two World Wars so we aren't speaking German, Japanese or Italian and now the do gooders want to take this away. I am alive for the last 22 years all because of a cigarette and have permission to smoke anywhere by the Head of the Department of Neurosurgery at the U of Minnesota Medical School and also a full pardon from one of our Governors. I will be going to the MN state fair next weekend and smoking wherever I choose also.

Sam Von Pufendorf
Sam Von Pufendorf 08/18/13 - 04:55 pm
Paid for the Revolutionary War?

It is an interesting concept that tobacco financed the Revolutionary War. Tobacco was not taxed by the Continental Congress until after the war was won. Haym Solomon and Robert Morris were the principal financiers of the Revolution along with lines of credit from the French. As for cash crops during the revolution, not only was tobacco traded, but hemp was grown and traded as well. As a matter of fact, the currency of most of the colonies was printed on hemp.
I sure wish you would elaborate more on exactly how tobacco "won" two world wars.
Real statistics:
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Tobacco use costs the United States nearly $200 billion a year in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity. Second hand smoke costs $10 Billion per year in Healthcare expenditures.
I am not a "do gooder" as I am a current smoker. However, I belive my right to smoke can be curbed by government control.
Your right to smoke anywhere as granted by a head of a medical department probably wouldn't fly on an Alaska Airlines flight (pun intended), or in a kindergarten classroom, or in a restaurant where smoking is prohibited.
Society changes. Cocaine and heroin were at one time legal for medicinal applications as well as many other drugs that at one time were legal that are not any longer.
Finally enjoy the Mn State Fair. It's always a good time!

texsis 08/18/13 - 07:56 pm
Smoke free outdoors event

Absolutely the epitome of ridiculous. Alaska what will you do next to top this idiocy. Oh yes that's right you are killing wolves and destroying local hire.


Norseman 08/18/13 - 09:28 pm
Light one up around the wrong

Light one up around the wrong crowd and you may find you need your nose set.

spwright 08/19/13 - 06:28 am

8/19/13 Norseman, Good to Hear from You. Are You O K ?

Norseman 08/19/13 - 11:47 am
Couldn't be better ol friend.

Couldn't be better ol friend. Just busy as can be during the fast, short, Alaskan summers.

jlmh 08/19/13 - 11:44 pm
I think it's great to go

I think it's great to go smoke-free, but I'll believe it when I see it. There are plenty of No Smoking signs where smokers congregate. As a society, we've pretty much removed it from public indoor places, but we have a long way to go in enforcing the outdoor bans. Building entrances and children's playgrounds are still a favorite for smokers.

If they started enforcing the No Smoking fines the way they enforce No Parking zones, we could probably get a healthy flow of revenue. And while you cannot force your grievances on the Supreme Court (they have to choose to hear your case), you can wear a patch to the fair or chew some nicotine gum to tide you over until you reach those distant rodeo grounds.

leewaytooo 08/21/13 - 03:13 am
what is the diff between the

what is the diff between the smoke coming out everyone's
cars and the smoke from a cigarette??

for every 25 miles a car is driven it produces a pound of

they both suck and yet only one is " bad" .

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