Committee approves smoking ordinance in Juneau

Posted: Tuesday, August 07, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A new ordinance to snuff out smoking in public places such as restaurants, offices, stores and hospitals and limit smoking outside some buildings was approved by a city assembly committee.

The measure is similar to ones taken up by Anchorage and Bethel.

''I feel we're on the right track,'' said Mary Becker, of the Juneau Tobacco Prevention Network, who spoke at a public hearing on Monday. ''The people of Juneau will breathe easier with the passage of this ordinance.

The Human Resources Committee unanimously approved the measure at a public hearing attended by about 30 people, most of whom supported the measure.

The ordinance would require hotels and motels to designate 75 percent of rooms as nonsmoking. 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 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. A business that fails to maintain a smoke-free premises could face a $200 fine.

Assembly Member Marc Wheeler said it was an important issue to move to the full Assembly for more comment. The full assembly will take up the matter on Aug. 20. A public hearing is slated for Sept. 10.

Renee Rieser was one of only two people to speak against the measure during Monday's hearing.

''Let the market forces decide whether restaurant bars should be nonsmoking,'' Rieser said.

Doris Robbins, who attributed her asthma and a chronic sinus infection to the effects of breathing in secondhand smoke in her office, applauded the measure. Smoking in public places such as bus stops and restaurants affects her health.

''I'm happy for smokers to smoke, but I need to breathe. It's a serious problem,'' Robbins said.

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