Contributed by Melissa Keefe
The annual Alaska State Fair is going smoke-free in 2016! The Fair’s new smoke-free policy was adopted earlier this year, and will take effect at the 2016 event, to be held August 25 – September 5.
“It’s not about the right to smoke but about the right to not have to breathe second-hand smoke. Smoking is an active choice. Breathing second-hand smoke is not,” said Jerome Hertel, Fair general manager.
Hertel added that the policy will decrease smoking-related litter and accidents; decrease the negative effects related to second-hand smoke, which is an established cause of cancer and respiratory disease; and discourage smoking around non-tobacco users, especially children.
The Fair’s decision follows a state and nationwide trend of “smoke-free” businesses and organizations. The Fair took a first step toward becoming smoke-free during the 2015 event, when it implemented a one-day, fairground-wide no smoking policy in conjunction with Wellness Day.
Numerous community partners, including Breathe Free Mat-Su, American Lung Association in Alaska, Alaska Family Services, Set Free Alaska and the American Heart Association, support the Fair’s decision to become smoke-free.
“We applauded the Alaska State Fair for having a smoke-free day in 2015, and we are even more excited that this year the clean air will last throughout the event,” said Mat-Su Health Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Ripley. “Smoke-free environments do more than protect the health of everyone who experiences them. They also change social norms about smoking, which leads to improved health for all.”
Under the new policy, during the annual Fair event, smoking is not permitted anywhere within fenced common areas of the fairgrounds property. Smoking is also not permitted within 40 feet of the main gated entrances to the Fair.
“With this policy, we are asking fairgoers who choose to smoke to do it far enough away from those who choose not to smoke. The smoke-free policy clarifies what that distance should be,” Hertel said.
The smoke-free policy applies to tobacco products and/or vapors from electronic smoking devices. Specifically, it prohibits carrying, holding, inhaling or exhaling the smoke of a lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, plant material, or of any other lighted or heated smoking equipment, including e-cigarettes that create a vapor or any other oral smoking device.
Compliance with the smoke-free Fair policy is mandatory for all employees, exhibitors, vendors, volunteers, performers and patrons visiting the Fair.
Look for smoke-free signage at Fair gate entrances and other prominent places on the fairgrounds. “BE SMOKE FREE/Thanks for not smoking buttons.” will also be available at Fair gates for fairgoers wishing to express support for a smoke-free Fair.
For more information, please visit alaskastatefair.org or contact Dean Phipps, Fair director of marketing and communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907.746.7153.