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Advocacy groups voice support for Alaska Smoke-Free Indoor Workplaces bill

ANCHORAGE, Alaska– Local advocacy groups – AARP, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the Alaska Native Health Board – are backing a bill that would make all indoor workplaces in Alaska smoke-free, saying it would protect the health and safety of all workers and business patrons.

“Only half of residents already live in communities with smoke-free workplace laws.  A smoke-free Alaska would create healthier environments and benefit business employees and customers. Everyone has the right to breathe smoke-free air,” said Marge Stoneking, Alaska Director, American Lung Association.

The Alaska Smoke-Free Indoor Workplaces bill was introduced Wednesday by Representative Lindsey Holmes (HB 360) and Senator Peter Micciche (SB 209), and would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces, businesses and public spaces. Individuals who choose to smoke will have to “take it outside” in order to protect others from the effects of secondhand smoke.

“The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no risk-free exposure to secondhand smoke.  Scientific studies have proven that smoke-free laws save lives – the incidence of heart attacks decrease after they are implemented,” said Dr. Bob Urata, a physician and volunteer for the American Heart Association. A 2006 report by the Surgeon General, “The Health Consequences of Smoking,” reports that non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke increased their risk of heart disease and lung cancer, and called it a major cause of preventable deaths.

  “Four out of 5 adults in Alaska support smoke-free workplaces, and businesses throughout the state have pledged their support for a statewide law,” said Emily Nenon, Alaska State Director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The coalition reports that more than 400 businesses and community organizations have expressed their support, which are listed on the website, www.SmokeFreeAlaska.com

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