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Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Goes Tobacco Free

Feb 1, 2018

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Ayagnirvik Healing Center provides substance abuse treatment for alcohol and opioid addiction in Bethel, Alaska.
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

On Monday, all smoking areas and ash cans will disappear from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation as the organization goes tobacco free. That means no tobacco use of any kind, including chewing tobacco, will be allowed for employees, patients, or visitors on YKHC grounds throughout the region. 

The health corporation announced the change last year, just before World Cancer Day. “As most researchers agree, there is no safe form of tobacco and its use is related to higher rates of cancer,” wrote YKHC President and CEO Dan Winkelman in YKHC's monthly newsletter.

Direct effects from smoking tobacco are a leading cause of cancer and death in Alaska, and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in the state. YKHC wants to begin reducing those numbers.

Starting Monday, anyone at YKHC found using tobacco will be asked to stop and will be provided with information on how to quit.