Letters to the Editor

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2002

Proposed no-smoking ordinance violates business owners' rights

On Wednesday, the city council of Soldotna will be voting to eliminate smoking in all eating establishments within the city limits of Soldotna, including bars. This is not an issue of the right to smoke. This is a violation of business owners' right to maintain and operate a business in the manner they see fit, and it is an infringement on the rights of the business community as a whole.

The city council has used the state of California and the city of Anchorage as examples of no-smoking ordinances already in place to justify their case. In Anchorage, this ordinance is now being ignored by many businesses, and exemptions have been given to others. The Anchorage ordinance also allows for bars which serve food to remain as smoking establishments.

In the case of California, I don't feel that any state legal system that declares the pledge of allegiance as unconstitutional and gives us the punch line verdict in the year-long drama officially referred to as the O.J. Simpson trial is one that we should model ourselves after.

If passed, this ordinance will only affect a small number of businesses in Soldotna directly, some of which are still feeling the financial loss of the Kenai River closure in June and the slow economy as a whole.

This ordinance is being introduced by a small group of individuals whose responsibility is to promote a prosperous atmosphere for the very same businesses that this ordinance would affect financially.

This financial loss will not only be felt by the affected businesses, but would also affect their employees, and the city of Soldotna. Loss of business revenue will also mean a loss in the sales tax revenue to the city. Lower income to affected employees will result in a loss of income to all the local businesses where these people purchase goods for their families.

This ordinance comes from good intentions, however, it is not the responsibility of local government to "save us from ourselves." In a free society, citizens have the freedom to do business with any establishment they choose, based on the merits of the individual business. People are not forced to work in any profession or place of employment that they do not want to. They are free to choose.

As full-time residents and business operators of Soldotna, we must earn a living 12 months per year. Our economy is greatly enhanced during the fishing season, but during the remaining nine months of the year, we rely on business from the full-time residents of our community. This ordinance will greatly reduce this ability and must not be adopted.

Attend the city council meeting on Wednesday and tell the council that the rights of local businesses must be upheld.

Bob Strauss

Riverside House

Soldotna

Smoking not victimless act; Soldotna moving in right direction

I support the Soldotna City Council's consideration of a smoking ban in restaurants.

It is odd that some restaurant owners oppose increasing their business. California restaurants saw an increase in patronage after their smoking ban went into effect, despite what tobacco companies and smokers argued beforehand.

The large majority of people don't smoke and are more inclined to eat out if they didn't have to risk their health to do so and then laundry their clothing afterward.

No, this isn't California. And yes, Alaskans do seem opposed to regulations of many kinds. But I am glad that urinating in our public swimming pools is banned. Separate "peeing" and "nonpeeing" sections in the same pool would not be appealing to me, even though urine is less of a health threat than cigarette smoke.

Should a local government try to regulate its citizens' drug use? Drinking (sans driving) and smoking or shooting up in one's own home may be victimless acts.

But exposing others to the known health effects of secondhand smoke in a public place seems an appropriate topic for municipal action.

David Thomas

Kenai



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