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American Lung Association Disappointed with Local Opt Out Provision in Alaska Smoking Restrictions Legislation

Statement of Deborah Brown, Chief Mission Officer of the American Lung Association, in response to Senate Bill 63 in Alaska, restricting smoking in public places and workplaces being signed into law:

"The American Lung Association is troubled and disappointed by the inclusion of a provision in Senate bill 63 in Alaska that will allow communities to opt-out of smokefree protections. Smokefree workplace laws are public health laws designed to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke, a cause of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke that kills over 41,000 Americans each year.

"Statewide smokefree laws are intended to protect everyone without exception. Unfortunately, a provision added by Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux opens the door for those protections to be taken away by communities, and for people to once again be exposed to secondhand smoke based on where they work and live.

"Other public health laws in Alaska, including drunken driving laws and laws requiring handwashing by employees in restaurants, do not have opt-out provisions for communities. Protections from exposure to secondhand smoke should not be optional either.

"Extending smokefree protections in public places and workplaces to places in Alaska that were unable or unwilling to pass local ordinances is an important step to help protect communities. Unfortunately, the inclusion of the local opt-out provision means the legislation falls short of the comprehensive protections that all Alaskans deserve. The Lung Association strongly encourages all communities in Alaska to keep smokefree protections in place to protect their residents from secondhand smoke. We also urge the legislature to remove the opt out loophole in the next legislative session."

Learn more about smokefree workplace laws at Lung.org/smokefree. For media interested in speaking with an expert about secondhand smoke and lung health, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
312-801-7628
[email protected]

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