A bill that seeks to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and public places may finally get a vote on the House floor after being held in the House Rules Committee for nearly two legislative sessions.
But the bill should be killed.
What’s new is Senate Bill 63 has been amended to allow vaping or e-cigarette usage, but it no longer applies to marijauna smoke. It should be noted that smoking cannabis in bars, restuarants and public spaces is already illegal. Anchorage Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who is responsible for holding the bill in committee for so long, is also responsible for an amendment that allows for communities throughout the state to overturn the smoking ban by popular vote.
Local governments are often the best governments for crafting policy that fits the desires of its residents. Communities can already ban smoking if they want, which Anchorage, Juneau and Bethel have demonstrated. Bars and restaurants can do the same. The Fairbanks area has only a handful of bars that still allow smoking.
Opting in to local smoking bans is working, so why are legislators trying to impose this smoking ban on the state? The system is not broken. Why force communities that are content with their smoking laws to opt out?
Rep. LeDoux deserves kudos for amending SB 63 to include a provision for communities to opt out of a statewide smoking ban, just in case the bill passes. As chair of the House Rules Committee, it is Rep. LeDoux who decides whether and when a bill will go to the House Floor for a vote.
The bottom line is smoking bans should be left to Alaska’s individual communities and proprietors. Rep. LeDoux should let the bill die in the House Rules Committee.
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,