Bethel City Council Passes Local Tobacco Tax

Bethel City Council passes tax hike on cigarettes.

On Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, the City of Bethel became the first community in Western Alaska to pass a local levy on tobacco products. The ordinance will raise the tariff on a pack of cigarettes by $2.21 and other tobacco products by 45 percent wholesale. The ordinance will take effect in 60 days to give businesses, and the city, time to prepare.

The Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation was one of a handful of local agencies which showed support for the tax. CEO, Gene Peltola, signed a letter of support and many YKHC employees showed up to testify at the public hearing on the tobacco excise tax issue.

This legislation builds on the city’s efforts to protect all people from the harmful effects of tobacco. In 1998, Bethel was the first city in the state to pass a smokefree workplace law. The Delta Tobacco Control Alliance has been a driving force over the years to move these initiatives forward.

The Bethel City council’s vote (4 in favor, 2 opposed) in passing the tobacco excise tax ordinance was a necessary step to help reduce the tobacco usage among youth in the the southwest region. Tobacco use among teenagers in the region is twice the national average. Great strides have been made on this issue, but there is still much work to be done, to improve tobacco avoidance and cessation among the region’s growing population.


  1. Larry said on

    The region has been a trailblazer in positive measures that truly benefits the people in the Y-K delta. Some people may not agree or support measures like this but this milestone really does help prevent initiation and hopefully encourage to quit using tobacco, including iqmik. We all know that dangers of tobacco use, it was never part of our culture yet has become the norm and policies like this really work especially for those who may end up developing health related challenges later in life. Quyana to the Delta Tobacco Control Alliance, Y-K Nicotine Program and the Bethel City Council in courageously doing good work!

  2. JoAnne Zito-Brause said on

    The Bethel City Council is showing it has the courage to be a leader in helping remove the scourge of tobacco-caused disease and death from its community. Addiction does not have to be a way of life, it can be rejected, and your efforts are making that possible for both the adults and the children in Bethel. Congratulations on this bold step toward a healthier future.

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