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Tuesday’s state primary election will surprise.

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Circumstances change.

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Larry Dennis Lemons, 73, died Aug. 12, 2018, in Craig. He was born on May 7, 1945, in Prairie City , Oregon.
Helen Blanche Peterson, 70, died Aug. 11, 2018, in Saxman. She was born Helen Blanch Edenshaw on Feb. 10, 1948, in Ketchikan.
2/9/2018
A positive trend

A bit of encouraging health news about Alaska arrived this week in the form of results from the 2016 Alaska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

The annual survey conducted by the Alaska Division of Public Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed an increase in the percentage of Alaska adults who don’t smoke, and an increase in the percentage of Alaska adults who refrain from risky binge drinking.

Binge drinking is defined in the survey as at least five alcoholic drinks for men, or four alcoholic drinks for women, on one occasion within 30 days of the survey. According to the 2016 survey, 18 percent of Alaska adults reported binge drinking — down from 20 precent in 2015. That’s progress.

The survey also indicated that 80 percent of Alaska adults were not current smokers, a slight decrease from the previous year but still on a general trend of improvement that’s continued since 2007 when the survey indicated that 75.6 percent of Alaskans were not current smokers.

We’re hoping that the positive trend applies to Ketchikan, where the Ketchikan Gateway Borough has collected more than $1 million since a $2-per-pack excise tax on tobacco products went into effect in January 2017. That represents more than 500,000 packs of cigarettes, which seems like a lot of smokes.

The 2016 survey wasn’t all positive, unfortunately. There was some increase in the prevalence of obesity, for example, and a very slight rise in the prevalence of cancer. The prevalence of diabetes in Alaska adults remained relatively flat at 8 percent, but the prevalence of prediabetic conditions rose substantially from the previous year.

Still, it’s good to see some positive trends in regard to smoking and alcohol use within the state. Smoking and alcohol abuse have had an impact on many lives over the years, and not just on those who chose to partake.

With work and awareness, these positive trends should continue.