Employee smoking shelter plan dies
Juneau -- The state's health department has killed a proposal to build a shelter for employees who smoke at the department's main office building.
Jay Livey, Health and Social Services Department commissioner, decided against the idea last week because the proposal was not in harmony with the agency's mission to discourage smoking, said Janet Clarke, director of administrative services.
"We understand people are addicted, but it made better sense for us to promote a no-smoking environment as much as possible," Clarke said.
The idea for a smoking shelter came from an advisory committee of employees who work in the Alaska Office Building across the street from the Capitol.
The panel made the recommendation in response to a memo last month by Jim Duncan, commissioner of the Department of Administration. Duncan asked state employees to comply with a new Juneau law prohibiting smoking within 10 feet of entrances to public buildings even though state facilities are exempt.
Duncan also said it was important that accommodations be made so employees can smoke near their offices and under cover from Juneau's inclement weather.
Clarke said the smoking structure idea was only in the conceptual phase, but the agency's facilities manager apparently believed the project was approved for construction. Facilities manager Arnold Liebelt sent a memo to the building occupants saying the state would construct an 8-by-14-foot fully enclosed smoking structure with ventilation, lighting and seating.
The memo disturbed some state employees, who questioned spending public money on a smoking shelter.
Livey met with agency directors Thursday and killed the proposal, Clarke said.