A bill to ban smoking in all public places throughout Alaska has cleared its first major hurdle, passing the state Senate on Thursday by a 15-5 vote.
Senate Bill 1, known as the “Take It Outside Act,” would prohibit the smoking of tobacco or use of electronic cigarettes in any enclosed public place, which includes all workplaces as well as apartment buildings and hotels.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, though the five opposition votes all came from fellow party members. State Senator Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, objected on the grounds that the bill interfered too much in private business.
Included in the bill is a rather unique exemption that allows for smoking on commercial fishing vessels and on guided fishing trips. It also includes an exemption for tobacco stores, though they must derive at least 90 percent of their revenue from tobacco sales and be a freestanding building in order to qualify. One place that is not included is marijuana cafes, stores and lounges, where state law currently allows customers to smoke.
The Alaska House of Representatives must now approve its version, House Bill 328, before the ban can head to Gov. Bill Walker’s desk for approval. It currently sits with the House Health and Social Services Committee.