The Soldotna City Council deleted language in the city's proposed restaurant smoking ban Wednesday night that would have let restaurants allow smoking -- if they provided separately ventilated areas for smoking and nonsmoking customers.
The amendment, sponsored by council member Lisa Parker, was identical to a suggestion made earlier in the meeting by members of the American Lung Association and the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance.
Parker's amendment cut sections B-E, which allowed restaurants to allow smoking in separately ventilated areas, from section 8.20.020 of the proposed regulation. Section 8.20.020 of the ordinance currently before the council now simply reads, "Smoking is prohibited and is unlawful within all indoor eating establishments."
The change means restaurant owners will not have the option of installing separate ventilation systems for smoking sections.
The amendment passed 4-1. Voting against was council member Joyce Cox. Council member Jim Stogsdill was absent.
Cox said she was uncomfortable with the amendment's implications for the business community.
"I personally am against smoking," she said. However, she went on to say she felt some area business owners might object to the change.
"I'm trying to look at their side of it also," she said.
The only public opposition the council has heard thus far on the ban has come from restaurant owners.
However, council member Sharon Moock, who proposed the original ordinance, cited restaurant smoking bans in other areas as proof that a total ban on smoking in restaurants would benefit the overall community.
"Anchorage is one place. So is Juneau. So is the state of California," Moock said, listing areas that already ban smoking. She said she had even received a letter from a California business owner stating business increased following the state's ban.
The proposed Soldotna ban would still allow smoking in bars, patio areas open to the sky and restaurants used in their entirety for private functions.
The council now has a month to decide if the ban should go into effect. The final public hearing on the ordinance will be held at the Oct. 23 meeting, when the council will vote on the ban.
Under language also drafted Wednesday, the proposed ban would go into effect March 31, 2003.
In other action Wednesday, the council:
Heard a presentation from James Shill, executive director of Central Peninsula Counseling Services. Shill asked the council to consider drafting a resolution supporting CPCS's proposed construction of a 36-bed care facility in the city.
Authorized a five-year renewal of the lease agreement for the Soldotna Historical Society under the existing terms and conditions.
Adopted the city's priority list for capital project requests for state and federal projects. At the top of the city's wish list is the construction of a new water clarifier and ultraviolet filtration system for the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Drafted a resolution supporting the Soldotna Little League and its desire to build new restroom facilities at the Soldotna Little League fields.
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