Alaska, in all of its rugged individualism and Libertarian glory, was one of the last places I would expect to pass a statewide smoking ban. But, The Last Frontier state just might do it.
The Alaska State Senate passed a bill to ban smoking in all enclosed buildings, including bars and restaurants, 15-5. It now goes to the Alaska House.
Smoking in bars and restaurants is already banned in Anchorage, Juneau and a few other small cities in Alaska. Since Anchorage is the only major city in the state, roughly half the people in Alaska are already used to a bar and restaurant smoking ban.
The push for statewide bans has slowed down considerably in the past few years. The big push was between 2000 and 2010. I think the last state to implement a statewide smoking ban might have been Indiana in 2012, which banned smoking in restaurants, but not bars and casinos. Kansas might have been the last state to pass a total statewide ban in 2010. Pretty much everywhere where state bans were going to pass has already done it, and the holdouts are very conservative, very Republican states, mostly in the South, which tend to have anti-regulatory Legislatures (unless of course, they’re trying to regulate gay marriage or women’s reproductive organs.).
A total of 29 states have total smoking bans, while several other states have bans on smoking in restaurants and most other workplaces, but exempt bars. Even in the states without total smoking bans, most large cities have banned smoking in bars and restaurants. There’s at least 50 major cities in Texas with total smoking bans.
So, there has been very little movement on the state smoking ban issue since 2012.
According to an article on KTUU Anchorage’s Website, a recent survey showed 69 percent support for a statewide smoking ban and 28 percent opposition. The bill contains a cute little exemption for commercial fishing boats. You can still smoke in a fishing boat (which, I guess technically is a workplace.).
I have no idea if the bill will pass in the House or if the governor would sign, but passing so easily in the Senate and with 69 percent approval of the proposal, it’s looking positive.