The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly voted Thursday to support Alaska Senate Bill 1, which would ban smoking in most work places. The resolution was introduced by Assemblyman Aaron Griffin, who two years ago was behind the local smoking ban vote which failed.
"Which wasn't perfect. It had it's problems at the time. Was the fact that the overwhelming evidence for public safety and public health is irrefutable. There is no question that this will save lives,” he said. “I mean it's spelled out in the resolution, really, itself that of people who die of smoking-related deaths one out of 10 are people who don't smoke. Which tells you right there, we have a problem with second hand smoke exposure."
Griffin said he understands the arguments made by business owners about their rights, he says the health of employees trumps that.
"While I think that we need to be cautious of property rights and the rights of business owners, sometimes the rights of employees outweigh that,” Griffin said. “And the the right of an employee to a clean and hospitable work place really is a right."
Assemblyman Larry LeDoux agreed.
"We're at down economic times as people have pointed out, and many people will take any job or any three jobs they can get. And we shouldn't ask people to sacrifice their lives to support their families,” LeDoux said. “It used to be if you didn't like the smoke, you could go somewhere else. I don't think people have that kind of job mobility any more."
Assemblyman Dan Rohrer, a business owner with plenty of employees had a couple of concerns over the resolution, but they weren't enough to keep him from supporting it.
"The reason I'm going to vote for this is because of what's in Senate Bill 1. And there's three things I want to point out. First, it's an act that prohibits smoking in certain places, not a hundred percent of work places. So they have fixed that from where we've been at in years past. Additionally it specifically refers to enclosed work places, and so the ability to enforce this law for example on somebody working on a construction job site where their building a house together with some people and one of them chooses to smoke and it's agreed to with the other individuals – that's not prohibited under this,” Rohrer said. “And lastly, the devil's always in the details on definitions, but in definitions it refers to smoking and it defines smoking, which seems counter intuitive, but one of the things they have added is 'plant product intended for inhalation,' and so for me that addresses a concern that I have in our community and throughout our state, in regards to second-hand marijuana smoke."
The resolution passed the assembly unanimously.