Smoke-free Alaska Coalition Urges Legislature to Pass Comprehensive Statewide Smoke-free Workplace Bill
House Judiciary Committee Passes Senate Bill 63 to Protect All Alaskans from Secondhand Smoke Exposure
JUNEAU, Alaska— January 24, 2018—Today, the House Judiciary Committee took Alaska one step closer to ensuring Alaskans across the state are protected from dangerous secondhand smoke exposure by passing Senate Bill (SB) 63, which would protect Alaskans working indoors from secondhand smoke and electronic cigarette aerosol. The legislation simply asks those who choose to smoke to take it outside.
The Smoke-free Alaska coalition, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, urges the Legislature to follow suit and pass this legislation. SB 63, sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche, passed the Alaska Senate last year 15-5 and has 20 House co-sponsors. The bill now awaits a House floor vote from the Rules Committee.
If passed and signed by Governor Walker, Alaska would become the first state since 2012 to pass a 100 percent smoke-free workplace law that covers all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Right now, Alaska is one of 25 states that does not protect nonsmokers in all workplaces.
“No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck. Unfortunately, many Alaskans must do that, as only half of the state’s population is currently covered by local ordinances to protect them from secondhand smoke,” said Emily Nenon, ACS CAN Alaska government relations director. “It is time to protect all Alaskans from secondhand smoke through a statewide law.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, which contains nearly 70 chemicals known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke kills 42,000 nonsmoking Americans each year, and can cause or worsen many health issues, including cardiovascular disease and stroke.
ACS CAN polling finds 69 percent of Alaska voters favor a law that prohibits smoking in public buildings, restaurants, offices and bars. Nearly three-fourths of Alaskans support the law including e-cigarettes, and more than half of Alaska’s smokers support a statewide smoke-free law.
“More than 1,000 businesses and organizations across Alaska have signed resolutions of support for a statewide smoke-free bill, including Fairbanks North Star Borough, City of Fairbanks, Mat-Su Borough, City of Kodiak, and Kodiak Island Borough.” said Marge Stoneking, executive director, American Lung Association in Alaska. “The bill also has the support of three-fourths of the Legislature with 50 percent of the House members as co-sponsors, so there is overwhelming support for it.”
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Alaska and strong smoke-free laws are critical to helping reduce the devastating toll of tobacco on our communities,” said Dr. Bob Urata, American Heart Association Alaska Division board member and Juneau family physician. “Strong smoke-free laws are the only proven way to protect workers and patrons from secondhand smoke. They also help people who want to quit and keep younger generations from starting in the first place.”
About the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)
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. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or in Anchorage call (907) 865-5300. Follow the Alaska division on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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