The Anchorage Assembly took on several topics at its meeting this week, ranging from the municipality's minimum age for buying cigarettes to bicycle theft and the location of a school-bus barn.

Assembly member Dick Traini's tobacco ordinance, which was introduced Tuesday night, would raise the legal minimum age to buy cigarettes or tobacco products within the municipality from 19 to 21 years.

Traini said the measure, which would take effect in 30 days if approved, is meant to improve the community's health.

"I heard a lot of people talk about 'Well, let's get flame retardants out of clothes, out of furniture?'" said Traini. "That kills very few people; cancer kills people, and so why not raise the age to 21, so the kids don't get hooked when they're young?"

According to the ordinance, national data shows that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21 years old. The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to daily use.

Last year, according to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Sitka raised its minimum legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

The Assembly also discussed an ordinance backed by member Chris Constant intended to deter bicycle theft by criminalizing the obliteration of their serial numbers. Under Constant's ordinance, removing serial numbers from bicycles and other items would become a misdemeanor offense in the municipality.

Nothing was done with the ordinance at the meeting, but Constant said he is working with a prosecutor to make sure they're doing the right thing with the state law. The conversation was postponed to March 5.

Tuesday's meeting also marked the first public hearing on the proposal to put the Anchorage School District's bus barn in the municipal campus near Tudor and Elmore roads. The facility's location has drawn fire from residents of Stuckagain Heights and the U-Med district, after locations near those neighborhoods were previously proposed.

The Assembly voted to move the bus barn across the street, next to the Anchorage Police Department. The new location, Site 27, was picked out of 83 East Anchorage sites.

The measure passed 8 to 3. An air quality study will be done at the site and a design will go before the University Area Community Council to address the concerns of community members.

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