1. Pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree indoor workplace law that includes electronic smoking devices and marijuana;
2. Ensure that Alaska underage sales enforcement is authorized for electronic vape products; and
3. Increase the statewide tobacco tax and establish a tax for electronic smoking devices.
What was once a debated issue is no longer argued - exposure to secondhand smoke is both deadly to workers and patrons of businesses, and costly to those businesses that allow it to occur. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and at least 69 known carcinogens, which pose real health threats to real Alaskans.
One such person is Monica Lettner, a musician whose livelihood and career depend on working in bars and restaurants where, in some parts of Alaska, smoking is still allowed. "I was a smoker once upon a time, but I believed then as I do now, that no one should have to be an involuntary smoker," said Lettner. "I'm also a professional musician. I sing and play guitar, solo and with a band, and I coach young girls aspiring to be rock artists as well."
"Musicians live gig to gig, and play wherever they are invited, mostly in bars," Lettner explained. "Not only can we not choose to not play in smoky bars and still survive, but we also breathe in much more air than our listeners sitting on their barstools. We breathe secondhand smoke for hours a night simply to do our jobs. Now I'm lucky to be protected when I play at home in Anchorage, but almost anywhere else in the state, I'm back to secondhand smoking."
"I'm passionate about music and want to encourage young people to pursue rock music, but I also want them to be safe and healthy wherever they have to play in our state. A statewide smokefree workplace law would protect my health and theirs now and into the future," Lettner said.
Alaska has made huge progress in reducing smoking rates among youth by over 60 percent. Now, however, we are facing rising rates of exposure and use of electronic smoking devices and marijuana. Taxation, underage enforcement, and smokefree public places will protect the health of Alaskan youth.
Over 1,000 Alaskan businesses and organizations have signed resolutions of support for a comprehensive statewide smokefree workplace law to protect their workers and patrons from secondhand smoke. Public survey results conducted in 2016 show that 69 percent favor passage of a statewide smokefree workplace law, 72 percent favor e-cigarette inclusion and 79 percent favor marijuana inclusion.
For these reasons, the American Lung Association in Alaska will work tirelessly to pass a statewide smokefree workplace law in 2017.