In Uncertain Times, Cancer Prevention Advocates Oppose Weakening City Smoke-free Law and Urge Anchorage Voters to Vote No on Prop 11

March 31, 2020

Anchorage, ALASKA – In the midst of these uncertain and challenging times, Anchorage voters have one week left to make their voices heard in the upcoming local election. Cancer doesn’t stop and neither does the work of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which is why ACS CAN urges Anchorage voters to vote “no” on local ballot Proposition 11 that would allow smoking inside Anchorage marijuana shops. Ballots are due to official drop boxes or postmarked by 8 p.m. on April 7.

ACS CAN opposes Proposition 11 because it would weaken Anchorage’s smoke-free law that currently protects all workers and patrons from secondhand smoke exposure in public places and workplaces. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

"Smoke is smoke. Smoking inside marijuana shops threatens health in our workplaces. Now is not the time to re-introduce health risks to our city," said Emily Nenon, Alaska government relations director for ACS CAN.

Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard. Marijuana smoke contains many of the cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. The carcinogens in marijuana smoke pose numerous health hazards to the user and others in the user’s presence. Marijuana smoke contains the same fine particulate matter found in tobacco smoke that can cause heart attacks and marijuana smoking affects lung function including inflammation of the large airways, increased airway resistance, and lung hyperinflation.

The use of ventilation systems cannot eliminate the health harms of secondhand smoke inside a building. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that separating smokers from nonsmokers, air cleaning technologies, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.

Marijuana users may also experience other adverse effects, such as anxiety and impaired cognitive and motor functions in the short-term. Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines published recently in the American Journal of Public Health recommend “that users categorically refrain from driving … for at least 6 hours after using cannabis.”

The use of marijuana in public places unnecessarily exposes nonusers to marijuana smoke posing potential health risks. Furthermore, permitting the use of marijuana in public would compromise the city’s highly effective smoke-free workplace law, which has been in place since 2007 when it was upheld by 72% of Anchorage voters.

More information on Prop 11 can be found at


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The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit


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Media Contacts

Noe Streetman
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager
Emily Nenon
Alaska Government Relations Director