Recently, the Alaska State Fair announced that this year the event is going smoke-free. No tobacco, pot or e-cigarettes will be allowed at the Palmer Fairgrounds.

The policy was adopted by fair management with the approval of the Board of Directors. In the interest of total disclosure, I have been on the board for more than 6 years and was supportive of this decision.

For the past several years, the fair has provided smoking areas, but last year went completely smoke-free for a day. The community response was overwhelmingly positive, which inspired the decision to go smoke-free for the entire 12 days of the fair.

Smoking areas will be provided just outside the fair gates.

Understandably, some people don’t agree with this decision — and they’re not all smokers. I’ve read a lot of comments about the “nanny state” and how some see this as yet another of their rights being taken away.

The tyranny of the majority.

If we’re going to ban cigarettes, the argument goes, why don’t we ban alcohol, or fried food, which kills thousand of Americans every year too?

I get it, but there is a difference. If you decide to drink responsibly at the state Fair, you’re not impacting anyone else’s health. If you drink irresponsibly, you’ll have the law to deal with. And if you decide to dine on corn dogs and chili fries… nobody else is going to pay for that decision but you.

If you decide to drink responsibly at the fairgrounds, you’re not impacting anyone else’s health. If you drink irresponsibly, you’ll have the law to deal with. And if you decide to dine on corn dogs and chili fries, nobody else is going to pay for that decision but you.

Smoking is different and it always has been. Growing up, I too was a victim of the majority. I remember my first airplane ride, sitting in the row in front of the smokers. There was no escape.

I played in smoke-filled bars to pay my way through college and probably inhaled two packs a night in second-hand smoke. Sure, I had a choice — but if I wanted to get a degree, there was really no choice.

Times have changed. The City of Palmer is smoke-free. The city of Anchorage is smoke-free. How many testimonials from bar owners do you have to watch, before you understand that it’s been good for business?

For the Alaska State Fair, it’s a health issue. Our vision statement requires that we provide a place where Alaskans can gather in a safe environment. That includes your kids and my kids.

I know a lot of smokers are considerate and I know a lot of smokers aren’t. I know some smokers will avoid the fair. And I know others will come and enjoy some amazing concerts, giant vegetables, and corn dogs. I’ll join you.

We want you to enjoy the Alaska State Fair and we want everyone else to enjoy it too.

John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.