Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Some Palmer Business Owners Balk At Prospect Of Going Smoke-Free
Should business owners have a choice or should the ban be mandatory?
PALMER—The city of Palmer is considering going smoke-free. A proposed ordinance aims to ban indoor smoking at all public places, including bars and restaurants.
The ordinance introduced at the Palmer city council is very similar to the ordinance Anchorage passed five years ago, and some business owners in Palmer have some of the same fears that Anchorage business owners had then.
Right now, they can decide whether they want smoking in their establishments but some say that should change.
Janet Kincaid is one of them. When Kincaid bought the historic Colony Inn in downtown Palmer 16 years ago she knew from the start that she wanted to go smoke-free.
“I personally wish no one would smoke because it is so absolutely harmful for your health,” said Kincaid. “That’s absolutely proven. No one can dispute that. So for the sake of others I would urge everyone not to smoke particularly in a closed environment.”
Kincaid is a big backer of the drive to make all of Palmer smoke-free, not just for her customers but also for the workers behind the scenes in bars and restaurants who are constantly exposed to second-hand smoke.
But not everyone agrees that government should tell them what to do, including long-time bartender April Lucore, who says she’s not particularly worried about second-hand smoke.
Lucore isn’t a smoker herself but she thinks businesses owners should have a choice about whether they want to go smoke-free and employees can decide whether to work there or not.
There is also a concern that bar owners might lose business if the ordinance passes.
Mary Lou Coddington has owned the Palmer Bar for 26 years.
“Yes, of course we will have less business,” she said. “People can come in here and have a beer or two, or they can drive two minutes from here to Four Corners and have a cigarette and five beers because they can.”
But supporters of the ban insist that businesses that have gone smoke-free don’t see a drop in business; in some cases they even see a gain.
The ordinance still requires a public hearing before a vote. That is likely to be scheduled for next month.