The Goal

The right to breathe clean air.

Objective: Increase the percentage of Alaskans who are protected from the harms of secondhand smoke.

Tobacco use, in particular cigarette smoking, impacts those who do not participate in its consumption. Since the 1986 Surgeon General’s report titled The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking stated that secondhand smoke causes disease in non-smokers, the extent to which exposure to secondhand smoke affects non-smokers has become increasingly well-documented. The science tells us: secondhand smoke kills.

This goal contributes to ATCA’s core purpose of unified, comprehensive tobacco control by allowing non-smokers to live free from tobacco’s negative impact. ATCA works to give all Alaskans the ability to live and work in smoke-free environments.

Current Focus

  • Sustain and increase proper enforcement of existing clean indoor air policies.
  • Work with business owners to help them enforce the law on their property and use available public signage.

Why Are We Doing This?

Smokefree States

  • Red states (25) ban smoking in worksites, restaurants and bars.
  • Dark orange states (5) ban smoking in 2 out of these 3 places.
  • Light orange states (29) have fewer or no restrictions.
Alaskan Communities

Numerous Alaskan communities have adopted smokefree workplace laws:

  • Anchorage
  • Juneau
  • Bethel
  • Unalaska
  • Valdez
  • Klawock
  • Haines
  • Petersburg
  • Skagway

However, according to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, only 53% of the state’s population is protected by 100% comprehensive smokefree workplace laws.

Chemicals

When individuals inhale cigarette smoke, either directly or secondhand, they are inhaling more than 7,000 chemicals: hundreds of these are hazardous, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. The chemicals are rapidly absorbed by cells in the body and produce disease-causing cellular changes.”

(2010 Surgeon General’s Report)

Healthcare

Studies following the passage of smokefree workplace laws continue to come from communities reporting notable immediate reductions in hospital admissions for heart attacks and other ailments. Among those are Montana, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, New York, and most recently Arizona — where $16.8 million in avoided hospitalization costs were associated with drops in admissions for heart attacks, angina, stroke and asthma.

Housing Conditions

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which sets national industry standards, ventilation efforts cannot protect against secondhand smoke, nor can attached smoking rooms or air cleaning equipment.

What We’re Doing

Alaskan Housing Authorities

There are now 27 states with smokefree housing authorities and in 2010 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a memo to their rental assistance program recipients on how to adopt smokefree policies. Alaska has 5 tribal housing authorities with smoke-free policies for some or all their properties:

  • Petersburg Indian Association
  • Cook Inlet Housing Authority
  • Aleutian Housing Authority
  • North Pacific Rim Housing Authority
  • Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority
Aleutians

Aleutian Housing Authority

"We've asked ourselves, why didn't we do this sooner?  It's not as scary as people think.  The three reasons we went smoke-free was economics, safety and health."

(Patty Paulus, Housing Manager)

North Pacific Rim

North Pacific Rim Housing Authority

“Before, people complained about smoke going through exhaust system and seeping into their apartments. Long term smokers ended up quitting; we provided Alaska Quit Line materials to everyone. Families with kids are very happy. One lady’s husband died of lung cancer – she’s very happy we went smoke free. I have never heard anyone say “Oh, I wish we could smoke here!”

North Pacific Rim

North Pacific Rim Housing Authority

"No more gross brown tar bleeding through the paint anymore. The walls & curtains smell good and are nice and white.  Paint use to stay yellow. New people don’t even know we used to be smoking."

(Danielle Deer, Regional Housing Manager, Seward)

North Pacific Rim

North Pacific Rim Housing Authority

“I can’t believe all other housing authorities haven’t done this, it was so easy and it is so much healthier, especially for children … No more cigarette burn holes everywhere, we don’t have to use expensive Kilz primer, it’s really saved money.”

(Brenda Christoffersen, Housing Manager)

Tlingit and Haida

Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority

“As an organization, THRHA has committed to our residents that we would provide safe housing for all Southeast Alaskans. In order to follow through with this promise, it was crucial that we made the choice to go smoke-free in our housing. Our resident feedback has been in strong support of this decision.”

(Anne Weske, Tax Credit/HOME Programs Manager)