Alaska’s tobacco report card grade improves

Alaska’s tobacco report card grade improves

Alaska’s State of Tobacco Control report card was generally positive

Alaska has made strides to keep tobacco out of adolescent hands, but there’s still room for improvement, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

The 17th annual State of Tobacco Control report grades, which are given out like schoolhouse grades, were shared Wednesday, and Alaska’s report card was generally positive.

There was one exception — the minimum age for purchasing tobacco. For that category, Alaska earned a D.

In Alaska, the tobacco-buying age is 19, while the American Lung Association recommends 21 as a way to curb smoking in young adults.

“That’s really the newest tool in the toolbox,” said Marge Stoneking, Executive director for American Lung Association in Alaska, in a phone interview.

[It just got harder to smoke downtown]

Stoneking said 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette before 21, which is a major reason the lung association advocates for an age increase.

Alaska is not alone in its younger-than-recommended tobacco age.

Nationally, just six states — Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts — have a tobacco-buying age of 21. In Alaska, one locality — Sitka —has adopted 21 as the minimum age for purchasing tobacco.

It was adopted and approved by the Sitka Assembly in May and went into effect in August, said Maegan Bosack, community affairs director for City and Borough of Sitka.

Stoneking said one of the reasons for the push is further understanding of how young adults’ brains are developing.

“The brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25,” Stoneking said.

The rest of the report card was a step in the right direction, Stoneking said.

The state received an A in state funding for tobacco prevention programs, a B for smoke-free workplace laws and access to services to quit and a C for state tobacco taxes.

For comparison, Washington received F’s for tobacco prevention funding, access to cessation services and the tobacco-buying age, an A for smoke-free air and a C for tobacco taxes.

Oregon received F’s for prevention funding and taxes, an A for smoke-free air, a D for access to cessation services and an A for tobacco-buying age.

Stoneking said tobacco prevention programs receive about $10 million in funding, which is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would recommend based on the state’s population.

Smoke-free workplace laws received a major year-over-year grade bump.

“Up until this year we’ve gotten an F for smoke-free air,” Stoneking said. “This year, it’s a B. That’s a big deal.”

[Legislature bans smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places]

In 2018 the Legislature passed a statewide smoke-free workplace law and required vape shops to be licensed and subject to underage sales enforcement.

“That was the Legislature’s big win for tobacco-prevention,” Stoneking said.

However, she said the state received a B grade because localities can opt out of the ban, but so far none have opted out.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, right, slices and serves fresh watermelon during North Peninsula Recreation Service Area’s Family Fun in the Midnight Sun at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
North Peninsula Rec holds annual summer celebration

Attractions at this year’s event included carnival games, food trucks, field games, face painting, live music and demonstrations

The Blood Bank of Alaska’s new Kenai Peninsula center is seen in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Blood Bank relaunches permanent center on Kenai Peninsula

The new location joins others in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla

Nathan Nelson directs a kite flying dozens of feet up in the sky above Millennium Square in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai Kite Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Sun, wind, friends and kites

Kiters both experienced and novice gather for Kenai festival

Marchers walk from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Pride in the Park, other Pride celebrations set for Saturday

The event starts with the Two-Spirit March, which meets at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 11:30 a.m.

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward OKs around $362,000 in purchases for Electric Department material

A pair of resolutions were included and passed within the consent agenda

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnets for commercial setnet fishers given emergency approval by CFEC

Up to three 12-hour periods of commercial dipnetting “may” be allowed each week from June 20 to July 31

Council member Dave Carey speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna explores its water and sewer expansion fees

The fees are a single charge to people who are newly or differently demanding or utilizing the services of the city’s water and sewer system

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Disaster determination received for 2023 east side setnet fishery

Disasters have been recognized for 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Design Project Manager Steve Noble and Public Involvement Lead Stephanie Queen appear to discuss the Sterling Safety Corridor Improvements project during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Sterling Safety Corridor project to get ‘reintroduction’ at community meetings this month

The corridor begins near Whistle Hill in Soldotna and ends shortly after Swanson River Road in Sterling

Most Read