KODIAK — A statewide ban on smoking tobacco and e-cigarettes in enclosed public places and places of employment came into effect today. The ban comes after Governor Bill Walker signed senate bill 63 into law, which advocates say was designed to protect Alaskan employees from the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke.
SB 63 bans smoking in bars, restaurants, retail stores, sports arenas, ferries, taxi cabs, apartment common areas and other enclosed spaces.
Around half of the state’s population was already subject to public indoor smoking bans – municipalities including Anchorage, Juneau and Bethel had passed their own ordinances. Although the statewide ban is effective from October 1, individual municipalities can opt out of the law by public vote.
Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage) introduced the opt-out amendment, which was supported by Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). Both Stutes and Senator Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) voted in support of the SB 63.
“I support it because my communities want it,” Stutes told the Mirror in January. “Not necessarily because I like it.”
“The people I represent have made it very clear that they want the bill,” she added.
Individual violators of the rule now face up to a $50 fine if caught, while a business that allows an employee or customer to smoke – or does not post the necessary signage – could face fines up to $300 for each day a violation occurs.
Businesses must now post a sign that reads either “Smoking Prohibited by Law – Fine $50,” or that “includes the international symbol for no smoking,” or that “includes the words ‘No Puffin’ with a pictorial representation of a puffin holding a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle crossed with a red bar,” the bill states.
The health department will provide signs to businesses that request them.
The state health department will provide signs to businesses that request them.