FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Owners of Fairbanks businesses are steadily moving to ban smoking inside their establishments despite the city and state not having laws on the books demanding smoke-free workplaces.

A number of restaurants and bars in the city banned indoor smoking last year, and owners said the change was met with mostly positive feedback, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

Businesses deciding to go smoke-free are following a three-decade trend, said Pete Hanson, CEO of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association. While quite a few businesses still allow smoking, the times are changing, he said.

“This is a trend, and it only goes in one direction,” Hanson said. “I’m confident more and more businesses will go smoke free.”

With smoking outdoors is often a frigid experience in Alaska, Hanson said the trick to making the change is to give time for customers to adjust. Once a business bans smoking, they rarely revert back, he said.

“I’ve never seen a business decide to go smoke free and then decide to go back the other way,” Hanson said.

Michele’s Cafe, owned by Michele Ruff, was one of the businesses in the city to ban smoking last year. Ruff said the smoke would discourage families from entering the restaurant.

“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Ruff said.

The restaurant closed for three days in September, and the walls were scrubbed and painted. While some longtime smokers weren’t happy, Ruff said feedback on the change has been positive.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com