New poll shows support for statewide smoke-free workplace law to reduce exposureFebruary 11, 2016
New poll results released by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and its partners, which includes ANTHC, show an overwhelming and increasing number of Alaskans would like to see the state pass legislation to make all Alaska workplaces smoke free. The Alaska Legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 1 to protect all Alaska workers from secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol in an indoor workplace.
The poll by Dittman Research shows that 88 percent of Alaskans believe all Alaska workers should be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, smoke-free workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke from tobacco users around them and even brief exposure can be dangerous. The harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to cause heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in otherwise healthy adult nonsmokers.
Since 1998, roughly 80 percent of Alaska Native people work in a smoke-free environment, which includes the ANTHC and ANMC campuses, which have been smoke-free since 2006.
However, many people in Alaska are not covered by a local smoke-free workplace ordinance because Alaska is one of only 14 states without a statewide smoke-free workplace law. In 2013, the ANTHC Board of Directors adopted a resolution of support for a statewide smoke-free workplace law.
A statewide law is necessary to protect all Alaskans from exposure to secondhand smoke. The Alaska State Legislature is currently debating Senate Bill 1, which, if enacted, would make Alaska the 36th state to have a statewide smoke-free workplace law. Not only is a comprehensive smoke-free law good for public health, but it will improve Alaska’s fiscal health too. The state currently spends about $438 million annually in health care costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses.
Tobacco cessation counseling and pharmacotherapy is available for all patients, visitors and employees by calling the ANTHC Tobacco Cessation Program at (907) 729-4343. For more information on supporting smoke-free Alaska workplaces, visit www.smokefreealaska.com.