Establishments should have a choice in smoking rules

With some age and workplace restrictions, using tobacco products in this country is legal. And, with the proper permits, selling tobacco products is legal. I suspect that the tobacco tax collected by municipalities and the state adds up to a tidy annual sum. Now I hear that there are those in Juneau that want to prohibit smoking in all public establishments. I have a problem with that for a number of reasons.

As a retired military man who served nearly 25 years of honorable service to my country, including a year in Viet Nam, I don’t appreciate losing any of my rights, including the one to smoke in a veterans’ Post. Policies in veterans’ organizations and fraternal clubs are established through a democratic vote of the membership. If the majority of members smoke and want to do so in their own Post then what gives anyone the right to prohibit that? Further, I have been in several Posts, both American Legion and VFW where the bartenders also smoke.

Veterans’ clubs are typically not open to the public. Bartenders are prohibited from selling alcohol to non-members by statute.

Members can bring non-member friends in for a drink or Friday night steak dinner, but the member must buy all drinks for the guest.

If the legislator(s) concerned with stopping smoking want a resolution to their conception that people shouldn’t be exposed to secondary smoke, whether guests or employees, they should consider another approach that seems fair to all. Create a statute that requires a sign be posted at the entrances to all establishments. The sign would read: THIS IS A SMOKING ESTABLISHMENT, or, THIS IS A NONSMOKING ESTABLISHMENT. This change should be acceptable because it allows those who want to enter to know if they will or won’t be subjected to secondary smoke. It also allows those seeking employment to know the same information before applying. Finally, it gives the owner the choice to make the decision for his or her establishment to be smoking or non-smoking.