Keep smoking rate headed in the right direction

  • Thursday, June 16, 2016 6:42pm
  • Opinion

Some good news this week from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services: smoking rates across the state have declined over the past two decades by about 2.1 percent.

Even better news is the drop in smoking rates among teens — down to 11 percent of high school students in 2013, compared to 37 percent in 1996.

The message to take from the numbers is that the message on the health risks related to smoking is getting across. Fewer young people are starting to smoke, and two-thirds of Alaskans who do smoke are trying to quit — no easy feat.

According to the Health and Social Services numbers, there still are significant disparities in smoking rates among certain demographics, most notable Alaska Natives and lower-income Alaskans, something the department plans to target. And while there has been a decrease in tobacco use among young adults, there has been an uptick in the use of e-cigarettes.

For those interested in quitting, there are resources available. A good place to start is the Peninsula Smokefree Partnership, located at 35911 Kenai Spur Highway No. 9 in Soldotna in the Alaska Maxi Storage Mall, which offers free tobacco quit kits. The Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, provides free tobacco cessation support for all those the age of 18 seeking help to quit.

Looking to the future, we hope to see the message about the risks of smoking continue to be shared — and that resources to help smokers quit continue to be available. We want to see the numbers continue to decline, but it takes dedicated staff at health agencies and organizations which rely on government funding to operate. With budgets tight, those organizations will have to prioritize programs, but now is not the time to quit helping people quit.

More in Opinion

Charlie Franz.
Point of View: Election integrity is not anti-democratic

The federalization of elections by the Freedom to Vote Act infringes on the constitutional right of states to regulate elections.

Snow blows off Mt. Roberts high above the Thane avalanche chute, where an avalanche blew across the road during a major snowstorm. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
An Alaska winter of discontent

It’s been a hard winter throughout the state.

A Uncruise Adventures cruise ship, with a fleet of kayaks in the water behind it, in the Tongass National Forest. Uncruise, a boutique local cruise ship operator, has been vocal about the importance of the intact Tongass National Forest, or SeaBank, to its business. (Photo by Ben Hamilton/courtesy Salmon State)
Alaska Voices: The dividends paid by Southeast Alaska’s ‘Seabank’ are the state’s untold secrets

Southeast Alaska’s natural capital produces economic outputs from the seafood and visitor products industries worth several billion dollars a year

teaser
Opinion: The pulse of fealty

Let’s be honest. Trump’s demands go beyond his one stated condition.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Alaska Voices: Permanent fund integrity in peril?

Alaskans need to be kept informed of what the trustees are doing with their money.

A cast member holds up a cue card in Soldotna High School’s production of "Annie" on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Is theater dead?

“It will not be an easy task, performing CPR on this theater, but imagine the joy that you could bring to the students.”

Bjørn Olson (Photo provided)
Point of View: Homer Drawdown moves forward with climate-change solutions

Two years ago, a small group of concerned citizens decided to use this book as a guiding document

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21 in Kenai, Alaska.
Voices of the Peninsula: Fight for democracy

When the Insurrection occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, it was a direct attack on our democratic rule of law.

Most Read