Owners of Bars and bingo halls in Alaska Anchorage will troop to city hall on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 to present their petition which aims to repeal the smoking ban set in April. Of the 12,000 signatures on the petition over 7,000 signatures are required by law to put the decision to the voters in the city. The question that would be put to the voters is: Should the Second Hand smoking law be repealed? Stomp the Ban, a group formed by the Alaska Libertarian Party Officials, hosted a news conference but held off until the last minute to turn the signatures into city hall at the personal request of the city clerk.
After the petition is filed, the city clerk will have 10 days to check it against the registered city voters. Smoking has been banned since 2001 in most public buildings in Alaska like restaurants, offices and government buildings. The Alaskan Assembly in August approved an extension to the smoking ban including bars and bingo halls in the area, which have been the remaining public places where anyone can smoke. To give the businesses enough time to prepare for the repercussions, the Assembly has made the law to be effective on July 1, 2007.
Stomp the Ban hopes to repeal the law before it even takes effect. 2 of the members of the group, Zach Keeton and Jason Dowell, commented that their campaign to repeal the ban is because of people's right not the personal interest of the business owners in the area. Keeton said that for him, it is a property issue and it is an infringement on their basic rights as players. However, in their interview with reporters last April at Anchorage City Hall, both Keeton and Dowell downplayed the report by a surgeon that second hand smoking can be harmful. At the end of the conference, a volunteer from the American Lung Association, Eric Myers, stormed into the room and accused Keeton and Dowell of completely ignoring the truth.
Ivan Moore, a pollster, said that there is no possible way that the voters would vote to repeal the law. Dowell, the head of both the Libertarian Party and a student at Alaska Pacific University, said that Stomp the Ban has spent about $16,000 on the signature campaign. Stomp the Ban paid about $1 per signature collector and $2 during the last week of the signature collection.
Keeton and Dowell said that even the Bingo Hall owners helped out financially. Jack Powers from Tudor Road Bingo Center Casino, one of the bingo hall owners, said that he has personally contributed $2,500 to the campaign because he believes that he would lose half of his customers because instead of buying pull-tab games, smokers would stay outside to puff their cigarettes during intermission.
Powers added that pull-tab games have already gone down the drain in other states due to the smoking ban. If the state advisory board votes on the health benefits for the same-sex couples for public employees, they could expect a healthy turn-out for the vote on the repeal as well. One of the members of the assembly and a backer of the ban, Dick Traini, stated that he believes the surgeon report regarding the harmful effects of second hand smoking, so he supports the anti-smoking ban. Traini added that only a fool would not even think of the effects of second-hand smoking.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007