Massachusetts Lawmakers Receive National Distinguished Advocacy Award for Championing Lifesaving Cancer Public Policy
BOSTON – Massachusetts Rep. Danielle Gregoire and Massachusetts Sen.
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – November 15, 2017 – The American Cancer Society’s (Society) annual Great American Smokeout on November 16 marks the 10th anniversary of Anchorage’s comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the Society’s policy affiliate, and other members of Smoke-free Alaska Workplaces coalition urge state lawmakers to take the next step and pass a statewide smoke-free workplace law in 2018.
In 2007, an ordinance went into effect in Anchorage prohibiting smoking in any enclosed place of business, including bars and restaurants.
Advocates who believe everyone in Alaska deserves the right to breathe clean air urge the Legislature to pass Senate Bill (SB) 63, sponsored by Sen. Peter Micicche (R-Soldotna). SB 63 would protect all Alaskans working indoors from secondhand cigarette smoke and marijuana smoke, as well as aerosol from electronic cigarettes. Alaska is one of 25 states without a 100-percent smoke-free law that protects nonsmokers in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
"No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck, but currently only half of Alaska’s population is covered by local ordinances," said Emily Nenon, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Alaska. "Due to limitations in local authority, the only way to ensure that all Alaskans are fully protected from secondhand smoke is through a statewide law."
Protecting Alaskans from the dangers of secondhand smoke through a smoke-free law is overwhelming popular with the public. An ACS CAN poll reveals that 69 percent of Alaska voters favor a law that prohibits smoking in public buildings, restaurants, offices and bars. More than 1,000 Alaska businesses and organizations have signed resolutions in support of the smoke-free bill.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, which contains at least 70 chemicals known to cause cancer. Each year, secondhand smoke kills 42,000 non-smoking Americans, and it can cause or worsen many health issues, including cardiovascular disease, stroke and respiratory infections. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can be dangerous. Nonsmokers exposed to high levels of tobacco smoke on the job double their risk of developing lung cancer, and lung and heart disease.
"The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is about more than helping people quit. It is about helping people live free from the health harms of tobacco, especially secondhand smoke. We know that passing a comprehensive smoke-free law is critical to helping Alaskans do just that,” said Nenon. “Strong smoke-free laws also help reduce tobacco use by creating a supportive environment for individuals trying to quit and helps keep our youth from ever starting to smoke."
A statewide smoke-free bill would prevent about 1,200 youth from becoming smokers. Within five years, it would save the state nearly $5 million in lung cancer, heart attack and stroke costs.
The Society launched the Great American Smokeout 42 years ago as a platform to encourage smokers to quit. Since then, the program has expanded to encourage tobacco users to make a plan to quit, and to encourage all Americans to advocate for comprehensive smoke-free laws, increased tobacco excise taxes and increased funding for evidence-based tobacco prevention programs.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.