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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Tobacco Cessation Can Help Fight The Flu

In Local News, State News on November 30, 2009 at 9:28 am

Given the current H1N1 flu pandemic, Indiana State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. says there’s never been a better time to quit smoking.

“Smoking damages your lung tissue, making you more susceptible to lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, which may complicate an influenza infection,” said Dr. Monroe. “Damaged lung tissue does not heal as efficiently after an infection as healthy lung tissue. Smoking also suppresses your immune system, making a smoker more susceptible to getting the flu in the first place.”

“When we look at the hospitalizations and deaths from the 2009 H1N1 flu, we can clearly see the negative impact chronic diseases, including tobacco-related illnesses, have on a person’s risk to develop serious illness or to die from the flu,” said Dr. Monroe.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has targeted individuals aged 25-64 with underlying medical conditions, like asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), to be among the first to get the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine as they are at higher risk for influenza-related complications.

Pregnant women are also targeted to be among the first to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine. According to the CDC, pregnant women are at a higher risk to get the flu and to have severe complications, including preterm labor, severe pneumonia, fetal distress, and even maternal death. Smoking during pregnancy can increase these risks, according to Dr. Monroe.

“Unfortunately, there are counties in our state with significantly higher than average rates of women who are pregnant and smoke,” said Dr. Monroe. “We know pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from the flu, and smoking can only compound the threat.”

“Our goal is to help Hoosiers live longer, healthier lives,” said Karla Sneegas, executive director, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation agency. “We know current economic issues in the nation are likely causing extra stress for individuals, which can make it even more difficult to quit. However, we want Hoosiers to know, if you are ready to quit smoking, we are here to help.

“The first step in quitting can be as simple as picking up the phone,” said Sneegas. “The free Indiana Tobacco Quitline – 1-800-QUIT-NOW – is available from 7 a.m. – 3 a.m. seven days a week with highly trained quit coaches ready to help with advice and tips designed to help callers quit for life.”

“Our goal is not only to help people quit using tobacco, but to assist their family and friends as well. A strong support network is critical to success in quitting,” added Sneegas.

For more information regarding information on how to quit using tobacco, call the free Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.in.gov/itpc.

American Cancer Society, ITPC Mark 34th Great American Smokeout by Encouraging Smokers to Quit

In Local News on November 18, 2009 at 8:54 am

As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society marks the 34th Great American Smokeout on November 19 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk and creating more birthdays.

In honor of the Great American Smokeout, the Daviess and Pike Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalitions are providing stickers with the Indiana Tobacco Quitline logo and phone number to several pizza restaurants and pharmacies in the area.

Researchers say that quitting smoking can increase life expectancy – smokers who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy; those who quit at age 55 gain about five years; and even long term smokers who quit at 65 gain three years. Smokers who want to quit can call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for tobacco cessation and coaching services that can help increase their chances of quitting for good.

Research shows that people who stop smoking before age 50 can cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke. Smokers who quit also reduce their risk of lung cancer – 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. Some of the health effects of quitting are almost instant, too – heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting.

“There’s no better time to quit than now,” said Sally Petty, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Project Coordinator for Daviess and Pike counties. “It can improve your health – and the health of your wallet. The average smoker spends more than $2,000 per year on cigarettes.”

Important facts about tobacco use:

  • Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.
  • Cigarette smoking accounts for about 443,000 premature deaths – including 49,400 in nonsmokers.
  • Thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to tobacco.
  • Smoking also accounts for $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses.
  • Great progress is being made in reducing tobacco use in the U.S., with adult smoking rates in 2007 declining among all adults to 19.8 percent.

Pike Co. TPC Honors Amber Manor Care Center

In Local News on November 17, 2009 at 9:12 am

PETERSBURG, Ind. – The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition has recognized Amber Manor Care Center with the Tobacco-Free Business Award. ITPC Project Coordinator Sally Petty presented a certificate to the facility Monday in honor of their smoke-free grounds policy.

Recognizing the importance of the smoke-free movement, Amber Manor’s campus leadership team has decided to endorse a smoke-free environment. They considered the numerous health risks associated with smoking. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 430,700 American lives each year, and an estimated 50,000 deaths each year are attributable to secondhand smoke breathed by nonsmokers. Smoking adversely affects the health and well-being of all Amber Manor employees, as well as their family members.

Based on feedback from their customers and in an effort to provide a healthier, cleaner home for their residents, Amber Manor will prohibit smoking on campus grounds effective Jan. 1, 2010.

This change will affect employees, campus visitors, and new residents. Current residents who already smoke and who currently reside in their campuses will not be affected by this change. They will be allowed to continue to smoke in designated areas on the campus grounds.

“Economic costs of smoking are estimated to be about $3,391 per smoker per year. Increased medical costs, higher insurance rates, added maintenance expenses, lower productivity, and higher rates of absenteeism from smoking and second-hand smoke cost American businesses between $97 and $125 billion every year,” said Petty. “We are proud of the steps Amber Manor Care Center has taken to protect the health of their employees, residents, and visitors. They set an excellent example for all businesses and healthcare facilities in Pike and surrounding counties.”

For help implementing a tobacco-free policy at your business, contact Petty at 812-698-0232. For free help to quit smoking, call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Adult Smoking Rates Remain The Same

In National News, State News on November 13, 2009 at 9:59 am

The Friday, November 13, 2009 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) announces the 33rd Anniversary of the Great American Smokeout to be observed Thursday, November 19, 2009.

The MMWR also contains articles entitled “Cigarette Smoking Among Adults and Trends in Smoking Cessation – United States, 2008” and “State- Specific Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults – Untied States, 2008.”

Cigarette Smoking Among Adults-United States, 2008 (NHIS)

The rate of adult smoking shows little to no change over the past five years and represents 46 million U.S. adults who were current smokers in 2008.  

According to 2008 National Health Interview Survey data analyzed by CDC, the smoking rate of adults in the United States remained virtually unchanged from 2007 to 2008 at 19.8 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively. 
Adults 25 years of age or older with a GED had the highest prevalence of smoking (41.3 percent) and the lowest quit ratio (39.9 percent).

State- Specific Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults – Untied States, 2008 (BRFSS)

Among states, smoking prevalence was highest in West Virginia (26.6 percent), Indiana (26.1 percent), and Kentucky (25.3 percent) and lowest in Utah (9.2 percent), California (14.0 percent), and New Jersey (14.8 percent).

There are 26 states that have adult prevalence rates at or below the U.S. average of 18%.  These states have one or two important factors in common:

  • cigarette taxes higher than $2.00 (the national average is $1.32)
  • statewide comprehensive smoke-free air law 

Of these 26 states:

  • 21 states have a comprehensive state smoke free air law.
  • 12 states have cigarettes taxes of $2.00 or more.
  • 12 states have BOTH smoke free air AND high taxes (>/= $2.00).

Conversely, the ten highest smoking states have low taxes (< $1.00) and no statewide smoke-free air policy.  Indiana is one of these ten states with high prevalence rates.

The CDC states, “to effectively combat the tobacco-use epidemic and reduce smoking rates nationwide, we must protect people from secondhand smoke, increase the price of tobacco, and support aggressive anti-tobacco campaigns that will reduce smoking and save lives.”

Expanding smoke-free policies and encouraging homes that are smoke-free are essential to reducing smoking prevalence and exposure to secondhand smoke. In 2008, the percentage of people in 11 states (including Indiana) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) who reported that smoking was not allowed anywhere inside their home, the median was 78.1 percent.  Indiana’s rate was 69.9 percent reporting a smoke free home policy.  Workplace exposure was reported at 10.5 percent in Indiana and the median was 8.6 percent.

Should Private Clubs Allow Smoking?

In State News on November 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

Does your private club need a license to kill?

Indianapolis Business Journal Vol. 30, No. 36 November 9, 2009

By Bruce Hetrick

Some of the loudest complaints about smokefree-workplace laws involve private clubs, especially those affiliated with military veterans.

“We went to war and fought for our freedom,” the argument goes, “so government shouldn’t take away that freedom by telling us we can’t smoke.”

This manifested itself last week when Marine Corps veteran and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told WRTV News, “I’m never going to tell an Iwo Jima vet that he can’t smoke in the VFW. You can take that for what it’s worth.”

If news accounts are correct, it apparently was worth a threatened veto of a comprehensive smokefree-workplace ordinance for our city. Subsequently, the City-County Council tabled the proposal. But is it freedom-enhancing to defend a veteran’s “right” to commit slow-motion suicide and homicide?

In his 2006 acceptance speech, then-VFW Commander-in-Chief Gary Kurpius argued that VFW posts need to make significant changes–including going smokefree–to remain relevant to current and future generations of veterans.

“Membership drives everything we do, but we won’t get a new generation–or even the older generation–to join us if we don’t recognize and adapt to the changing world,” Kurpius said. “There has to be something more attractive about the VFW than just the bar.”

He called on member posts to create family-friendly services, such as childcare facilities and health clubs.

“But I guarantee you,” Kurpius said, “that no one will want to join a VFW health club, or bring their children to a VFW daycare center … as long as smoking is still permitted indoors. We are a democratic organization that is letting 20 percent of the population tell us that the post will fail if people can’t smoke inside. That’s bunk. I know many VFW members and spouses who will not attend post meetings or events because of the smoke. I have read many articles about the VFW being the last building in town where indoor smoking is still permitted–and some members quoted in the newspaper are celebrating as if they just won a great battle against government and social interference. Comrades, that is not a victory; it is a sad commentary that unfortunately paints all of us with the same brush.”

I’m not a military man (they didn’t want me), but I’m the son of one and the brother of two others. So I know the VFW’s mission is to “honor the dead by helping the living.” Well, you don’t honor anyone by helping veterans kill themselves and everyone around them with tobacco smoke.

I also know the Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis or “always faithful”–to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to the country, no matter what. The Marine Corps Web site also says “Respect for others is essential” and “Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.” Even if you’re faithful to your fellow Marine’s nicotine addiction, what’s respectful or responsible about poisoning the air at the VFW post, American Legion hall (or local tavern) for the bartenders, servers, janitors, caterers, delivery people, sales reps and others who work there–or the guests who visit? Is that really something the few and the proud would do?

If that weren’t cause enough, perhaps our veterans should set a healthy example for today’s troops. A report released in June by the Institute of Medicine–an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision-makers and the public–concluded that the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and Congress “should take stronger steps toward eliminating tobacco use.”

“Because tobacco use impairs military readiness, harms the health of soldiers and veterans, and imposes a substantial financial burden on the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, these agencies should implement a comprehensive strategy to achieve the Defense Department’s stated goal of a tobacco-free military,” said the report.

Toward the same tobacco-free end, the military last month announced that it would ban smoking from Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital at the Marine Corps Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California–and at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., and at the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, Calif.

Martha Hunt, Bush Naval Hospital’s health promotions and awareness coordinator, said, “Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States … It is also one of the leading detractors from combat readiness, impacting the healing of injuries, heat stroke, night blindness, [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], and others.”

All of which begs a question for our elected officials contemplating smokefree workplace laws: Did our troops really fight and die for our country so our veterans could sicken and kill themselves and innocent bystanders here at home? If so, it’s a sad new definition of “friendly fire.”

Bruce is chairman and CEO of Hetrick, an Indianapolis-based integrated marketing communications firm. His column appears twice a month, but you can join the conversation anytime at tellhetrick.com.

Indy Smoking Ban Fails

In State News on November 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm

From the Indianapolis Star:

Ban goes down in flames of secrecy

When the proposed ban on smoking in Indianapolis is revived — and it almost certainly will be in time — let’s hope the air will be clear of some of the lamer arguments, as well as the behind-closed-doors politics, that helped block the initiative this week.

Let’s first dispense with the silliest argument against the ban. Brad Klopfenstein, former executive director of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, praised the council — and we’re not making this up — for “representing the rights of adults to make adult decisions.”

Does anyone truly believe that anyone has a right to willfully endanger another person’s health? Is it an adult decision to place someone’s life at risk in order to indulge in a deadly habit?

Spare us the muddled cries of “liberty.” Smokers have no more right to spew toxic substances that foul the lungs of all those around them than chemical companies have a right to pump their waste products into White River.

Then there’s the spectacle of Mayor Greg Ballard, the most disappointing figure in this entire debate.

Opponents of the ban may be misguided, but at least they had the courage to take a public stand on a contentious issue. Ballard, as a candidate for office, promised that he “would support any legislation to limit the impact of secondhand smoke.” He also promised to champion transparency in government. He struck out — and badly — on both counts this week.

Ballard not only opposed the ban but also waited until two hours before the City-County Council’s vote to deliver a veto threat to the Republican caucus in a closed-door meeting.

Ballard has refused to take a public stand on the matter. The only reason residents now know where the city’s chief executive comes down on an important policy issue was due to the investigative work of Star political columnist Matt Tully, who the next day learned of the secretive meeting involving the mayor and GOP council members.

Will the issue return to the forefront? “It’s inevitable that it’s going to pass,” said Republican council member Ben Hunter, one of four cosponsors of the ordinance. “Indianapolis will move forward on the issue.

When it does, good sense and political courage should no longer be lost in the haze.