Sunday, July 16, 2006

Update On The Proposed New Harsher Anchorage Anti-Smoking Ordinance

Special Note: If you live within the boundaries of the Municipality of Anchorage, and you're opposed to the new anti-smoking ordinance, click here to go to the Stomp the Ban website to sign a petition urging your Assembly Member to vote against the ordinance.

On Tuesday July 11th, 2006, as discussed in my previous post, "Anchorage Assembly To Hold Hearings On New Harsher Anti-Smoking Ordinance", the Anchorage Assembly took public testimony on this issue. However, 100 people signed up to testify, and only 50 could be heard, so the remaining 50, plus any stragglers will be heard at the next Assembly Meeting on Tuesday July 25th. Testimony will begin any time after 6 P.M. The ordinance, officially named The Secondhand Smoke Control Ordinance, is designated AO2006-86. Click here to view the ordinance.

Here were some typical comments at the July 11th Assembly Meeting, as reported by KTUU:

Second hand smoke is dangerous to your health and can kill you. The debate is over with that. There is no safe level of second hand smoke,” said Richard Gelardin, an Anchorage resident.

Bingo halls have gone out of business because they were not allowed to smoke in them,” said Jack Powers, owner of Tudor Bingo. Powers believes that the city does not need to interfere with the smoking issue. He says throughout the past few years he has seen a major decrease in smokers. “With or without the smoking ban, fewer and fewer people are smoking. This is taking care of itself. I visualize that within three years I will either cut that smoking room in half again or totally go without smokers,” said Powers.

Powers also says non-profits will suffer because Tudor Bingo participates in charitable gaming. “I give, historically, $1 million a year to the non-profits. Hypothetically, if I lose 25 percent of my business, which are smokers now, and they quit coming four, five, six nights a week, which they say they are going to do, they’d rather stay home and smoke if they can’t smoke here, that would equate to maybe $250,000 less to the non-profits,” said Powers.

And there are other issues that those who work for the bingo industry have. Jerry Lewis, general manager of Alaska Bingo Supply, came out to give public testimony last Tuesday. “One thing that nobody has brought up is the fact that you guys are proposing an exemption for hotel rooms. Well, children have to stay in those room as well. Nobody has even touched on that yet. You are overlooking the fact that bars and bingo halls have great ventilation systems and children are not involved. You are proposing a 25 percent exemption. I am appalled by that,” said Lewis.

Analysis: Sentiment about the new ordinance is clearly shifting against it. The Anchorage Daily News is currently soliciting comments, and approximately 60% of the comments are in opposition to the ban. Those supporting the ban (the anti-smokers) are being perceived as clearly less tolerant and more hateful. A noticeable number of non-smokers are fair-minded enough to oppose the new ordinance. They accept Frank Dahl's argument that, with 200 non-smoking social establishments and only 90 smoking establishments, there are ample alternatives for non-smokers. In addition, KTVA Channel 11 is running an "unscientific" poll on this issue, and as of this moment, out of 202 votes recorded, only 90 support the new ordinance (35.7%), while 162 oppose it (64.3%).

People apparently are also evaluating this issue in light of an endless supply of restrictive laws and ordinances cascading down from different levels of government. During the past five years, the Assembly passed the first anti-smoking ordinance, a sign ordinance, a bicycle helmet ordinance, and a municipal tobacco tax. The State Legislature passed a primary seat belt law during the last regular session (but failed to pass a petroleum profits tax), even though Anchorage cops already have their hands full with real crime, to include the upsurge in gang-related shootings. And then there's the endless series of Federal laws such as No Child Left Behind and the USA Patriot Act, which have been such a nuisance. People are beginning to realize that government is simply becoming too intrusive, invasive, and oppressive, and have had enough. And these are "Republicans" who are growing government (except for true believers like Dan Sullivan).

Too bad Troy Maulden's leaving town. If the Assembly passes this new ordinance, he could file recall petitions against every Assembly Member who votes for it. Dick Traini, Dan Coffey, Pamela Jennings, Ken Stout, Allan Tesche, and Janice Shamberg have publicly declared their intent to support the ordinance as it is presently written.

Another Related Previous Post: "Anti-Smoking Zealots Want To Make Anchorage Smoke-Free", May 18th.

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