JUNEAU (AP) — A proposal to ban smoking in bars and restaurants across Alaska gained wide support in the Alaska Legislature, but the bill’s fate will again be decided by a single lawmaker.
Republican state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage has given no sign that she has changed her opposition to the ban, the Juneau Empire reported Wednesday. LeDoux, the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, killed the same bill in the 2015-16 Legislature. LeDoux is in a key position that allows her to decide whether it comes up for a final vote.
LeDoux, through a spokesman, declined to talk about her position.
If signed into law, the bill would restrict smoking in public places. It’s being advanced by Republican state Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna.
Micciche said he believes the bill is a matter of public health and is about protecting employees in businesses that currently allow smoking.
“It’s clearly a public health issue. No one disagrees there will be health benefits,” he said.
Micciche, speaking to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday afternoon, said he refers to the bill as the “take it outside” act.
“It’s complaint-driven,” he said. “There’s not going to be a group of people from (environmental conservation) or (state health) that is going around trying to catch you because you’re trying to sneak a cigarette near the bathroom.”
Bethel was the first city in Alaska to ban smoking in public spaces such as bars and restaurants. Its ban passed in 1998 and in the two decades since that vote, other cities have followed suit. Anchorage bans smoking in public and so does Juneau. Fairbanks hasn’t passed a ban and neither has Kodiak.