Kenai may set flat smoking fines

Kenai’s fines for public smoking may drop if the city council passes a measure, suggested by Kenai’s legal department, to cut costs created by a current requirement that everyone fined for smoking must appear in court.

Kenai code prohibits smoking in indoor eating establishments and bowling alleys, in places where “no smoking” signs are posted, in health care facilities and within 20 feet of the entrance of a health care facility. Currently, Kenai issues a fine up to $100 for a first smoking violation. For a second smoking violation within a two-year period, the fine is up $200, and for a third up to $500.

Determining the exact amount to be fined within these ranges, however, requires an arraignment in court — requiring extra time and work for city officials, the court system and the person cited, according to Kenai city attorney Scott Bloom, who supported the ordinance with a memo he wrote to the Kenai City Council.

“While the purpose of a flexible fine amount is to allow for discretion by the citing official, in these cases the benefits do not outweigh the burden in my opinion,” Bloom wrote.

One location covered by the smoking regulations is the Kenai Municipal Airport, where people cited for smoking might be travelers from other parts of the state or country. Requiring these people to plan for their arraignment in Kenai’s courthouse also imposes extra trouble on them, Bloom wrote.

The new ordinance would create flat fines for smoking violations: a $50 first-time fine, $100 for a second time and $200 for a third. These could be issued without a court appearance. Bloom wrote in his memo that Kenai administrators and Police Chief David Ross had given their support to the proposed fine amounts.

People cited with smoking violations would still have the option of being arraigned under the new ordinance, according to the ordinance text.

The Kenai City Council is scheduled to discuss and vote on the change at its Jan. 4 meeting.

Reach Ben Boettger at

More in News

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, U.S. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, speaks during a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska. The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House is appearing in a new round of ads urging Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ads featuring Young are being paid for by the Conquer COVID Coalition, Young spokesperson Zack Brown said by email Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Young urges vaccination in new ads

Young, 88, “believes the vaccines are safe, effective and can help save lives.”

A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
What you need to know about boosters

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility explained

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell (center) presents Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid (left) with a Life-Saving Award for her efforts in rescuing a child from the Kenai River offshore of North Kenai Beach this summer, during a ceremony held by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Oct. 13, 2021. Reid and Kenai River dipnetter Antoine Aridou (far right) rescued the 12-year-old on July 29, 2021. (Photo provided by the Office of the Governor)
Governor recognizes dipnetter, trooper for summer rescue

Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid received a Life-Saving Award and Antoine Aridou received a Governor’s Commendation.

COVID-19 (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 3 more COVID deaths, more than 900 cases

The newly reported deaths push Alaska’s total to 594 COVID fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP)
Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The ship performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades.

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

Most Read