According to a report by the American Lung Association, Alaska needs to protect more of the public from secondhand tobacco smoke.
The report is the ALA's "State of Tobacco Control" and it tracks the progress of key tobacco control policies at the state and federal level. According to the ALA, the report assigns grades "based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy."
Alaska received the following grades for 2012 in the "State of Tobacco Control" report:
- Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding: A
- Cigarette Tax: C
- Smokefree Air: F
The association reported that an estimated 488 deaths in Alaska are caused by tobacco use yearly. It costs the state's economy over $448 million in health care costs and lost productivity.
Anchorage, Juneau, Nome, and several other communities throughout Alaska prohibit smoking in almost all work areas and public places. In October 2012, voters in the city of Palmer also approved this local smoke-free policy.
"Many Alaskans are surprised that we don't already have a statewide smoke-free law covering all public places and workplaces just because Anchorage and Juneau are covered, said Marge Stoneking, Alaska Director, "but we don't. Half our state's population is unprotected from secondhand smoke at work and in public places."
Alaska was one of the two states that is funding its state and tobacco control program at the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contact Jessica Ridgway