Juneau considers smoking ban

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Juneau Assembly committee will take public testimony Monday on a proposed ordinance designed to limit smoking in public places.

The measure would prohibit smoking in Juneau restaurants, offices, stores, hospitals and other public places. It is similar to an ordinance in place in Anchorage.

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.

''Its a real health issue. Secondhand smoke is a killer,'' she said.

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. It would also ban smoking in 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.

Dory Cleveland, who was smoking outside on Seward Street on Saturday afternoon, said she understands why smoking should be off-limits in stores but said the proposed ordinance 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 lymphoma, said the ordinance is a good idea.

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

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