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Daviess County Residents Call For Statewide Smoke-Free Air Law

In Local News on March 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

WASHINGTON, Ind. (March 16, 2011) – Daviess County residents are calling for Indiana legislators to pass a law that would make all workplaces in Indiana smoke-free, including restaurants, bars, and casinos. It makes sense medically and economically – and it’s just the right thing to do, agreed a panel of expert speakers at last night’s Smoke-Free Air Forum in the Washington High School Library.

“We cannot in all good conscious allow (secondhand smoke) to hurt our community,” said Rev. Lennie Lawrence of Christ United Methodist Church, pointing out that lower income families, African Americans, and women suffer most of the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure and smoking.

The panel discussion started with Marilyn McCullough of Thompson Insurance talking about the economic costs of secondhand smoke to businesses. Not only does going smoke-free lower health insurance costs, it increases productivity.

“If you allow your smoking employees four 10-minutes breaks every day, they actually work three weeks less per year than your nonsmoking employees,” said McCullough.

Also, businesses can save $190 per 1,000 square feet per year in maintenance costs if they are smoke-free, she said.

Many bar owners are concerned that a smoke-free law would cause them to lose business. But bars and restaurants are already under many safety and health regulations regarding sanitation and cleanliness, and smoke-free regulations fall in that same category, said McCullough.

Bars and restaurants in Hoosier cities that have enacted local smoke-free ordinances and in the 28 states with smoke-free laws have not lost business, and some have actually gained because non-smokers are the majority, she continued. Those studies that may contradict this information are closely tied to the tobacco industry and are not as trustworthy as the independent studies that show no negative economic impact from a smoke-free law, she said.

Speaking next on the panel was Jane Norton, RN, with the Daviess County Health Department. She said that secondhand smoke is actually more toxic than the smoke breathed by the smoker, and chemicals from cigarette smoke persist well beyond the time the smoker is in the room. Secondhand smoke cannot be contained in separated rooms or removed with ventilation systems, and no amount of secondhand smoke is safe, she said.

“Secondhand smoke laws need to be 100% to be effective,” she said.

Next to speak was Valerie Roark, a respiratory therapist who manages the cardiopulmonary, neurodiagnostics, and sleep diagnostics department at Daviess Community Hospital. She said that secondhand smoke causes many diseases in nonsmokers, including heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. A smoke-free law that covers all workplaces drastically reduces heart attacks, she said.

“That’s huge! Smoking bans can have a substantial impact on public health,” she said, “and it’s measured in human lives.”

Rev. Lawrence finished the panel discussion by talking about his own experience with secondhand smoke. Both of his parents died from smoking, and he quit smoking when his children were young. But because of exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood and his own smoking, Lawrence now suffers from multiple health problems including COPD and asthma.

Lawrence also talked about ministering to and consoling families who have lost children, parents, and siblings too early because of the devastating effects of secondhand smoke and smoking.

“Smoking is more than statistics, more than laws; it’s about lives turned inside out,” said Lawrence. “The question was asked, should the business owner be able to make the decision (whether to allow smoking). Let them talk to someone who has felt the effects. It destroys the bottom line of families.”

Lawrence encouraged the audience to tell restaurant owners when they decide to leave an establishment because of the secondhand smoke and to talk to friends and family members about the effects of secondhand smoke.

The evening concluded with presentations of awards to Washington Community Schools and Four Seasons Entertainment Hall.

Sally Petty, coordinator of the Daviess County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, presented the Gary Sandifur Award to Superintendent Bruce Hatton and Assistant Superintendent Becky Dayton in honor of the school’s new policy which prohibits tobacco use by all students, staff, and visitors at all times on all school property. Petty said the policy protects students and school employees from secondhand smoke and helps reduce youth smoking rates by setting a positive example.

Petty also presented the Smoke-Free Business Award to Four Seasons Entertainment Hall in honor of their smoke-free policy. Petty said their policy does a good job of protecting their employees and patrons from secondhand smoke. Dave Crooks of DLC Media accepted the award on behalf of business owner Jason Chapman, who could not be present due to a family emergency. Crooks remarked that Four Seasons’ smoke-free policy did not hinder a crowd of 1,000 people from enjoying a live concert there recently.

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Indiana Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Celebrates Milestones

In Local News, State News on February 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

This op-ed by Sandy Gleim was published in the Herald Argus:

After 10 years working on the local and state levels, Indiana Tobacco Prevention & Cessation is celebrating impressive milestones that positively impact Hoosier health.

  • Smoking rates for high school youth have dropped by 42 percent, resulting in 49,000 fewer youth smokers.
  • Adult smoking decreased from 27 to 23 percent. This historic low rate means there are 207,000 fewer smokers in Indiana.
  • Per capita cigarette consumption has declined by 40 percent.
  • More than 2,000 community organizations statewide – including in LaPorte County – are working to help reduce tobacco use.
  • Many more Hoosiers are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke, within 30 smoke-free communities.
  • The Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW has served more than 60,000 residents since it was launched in 2006.
  • 70 percent of Indiana’s schools have a tobacco-free campus, an increase from 28 percent.

That is much good work to applaud! But the flip side is there are still more than one million smokers in our state, translating to 9,700 deaths each year. An additional 194,000 Hoosiers live with serious tobacco-related illness. The tobacco use burden to the Indiana economy is estimated at $7.7 billion annually, and the state spends a whopping $487 million each year on Medicaid payments caused by tobacco use. The bottom line is that many Hoosiers continue to smoke, ultimately costing the state and taxpayers in increased health care costs.

Balancing all these facts, it’s apparent while much has been achieved in Indiana, we still have major work ahead to improve our health status.

Enacting smoke-free policy is not only an effective measure in leading persons to give up smoking, but public health advocates support 100% comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of all workers to breathe healthy air. Once again, our legislature is considering a statewide smoke-free policy. The House bill contains numerous exemptions to public places, including bars. Now the Senate has the chance to debate the issue and hopefully to strengthen the stance.

As these discussions progress, from an economic as well as a health angle, it benefits Indiana to support comprehensive smoke-free policy and the continued prevention and cessation work of the state tobacco agency.

Exemptions Make Proposed Smoking Ban Useless

In Local News, State News on January 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

The Washington Times-Herald published an article Jan. 25 titled “House exempts bars from proposed smoking ban.” Our state legislators have so watered down the proposed law with exemptions that it’s practically useless at this point.

Indiana needs a smoke-free workplace law that covers all workers, including those in the hospitality industry, because all workers deserve a safe and healthy work place, no matter where they work.

Many employees in the restaurant, bar, and casino industry have limited employment options, especially in this economic environment. They should not have to choose between their health and earning a living for their families. Secondhand smoke kills thousands of nonsmokers every year, especially people working in restaurants, bars, and casinos.

Numerous polls show a majority of Hoosiers support a smoke-free law that covers all workplaces. Bars and casinos in other states with smoking bans have not been financially harmed because of the law. Instead, those states are seeing drops in heart attacks and other diseases related to secondhand smoke exposure.

It all boils down to this – secondhand smoke is a worker safety issue, the same as any other workplace safety hazard. I like how Dave Crooks put it in his recent blog: “It’s time to ban smoking in ALL public places in Indiana. We have nothing to fear but cleaner air and a more attractive state for all.”

I urge you to contact your legislators today and ask them to support a smoke-free law for everyone.

2010 In Review

In Local News on January 3, 2011 at 9:57 am

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 59 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 214 posts. There were 15 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 19mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 19th with 186 views. The most popular post that day was CDC Finds Poisons In Dissolvable Tobacco Products.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were righthealth.com, facebook.com, ifreestores.com, search.aol.com, and mariaozawa2u.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mouth cancer, mouth cancer pictures, smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco, and mouth cancer from chewing tobacco.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

CDC Finds Poisons In Dissolvable Tobacco Products October 2009

2

Through With Chew Week January 2009

3

New Tobacco Product Display March 2009

4

Are You Through With Chew? January 2009

5

Dissolvable Tobacco Products, Tobacco Candy New Threat May 2009

New Surgeon General’s Report Shows Immediate Need for Strong Tobacco Control Programs

In Local News on December 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm

WASHINGTON, Ind. – Local health advocates say a new U.S. Surgeon General’s Report released Thursday provides a stark reminder of how lethal and addictive smoking is for everyone. This report underscores the importance of actions to prevent kids from starting to smoke, help smokers quit and protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air-free.

“Exposure to tobacco smoke causes immediate damage to your body.  The next cigarette you smoke can be the cigarette that is the trigger for a deadly heart or asthma attack, or damage your DNA which can lead to cancer,” says Sally Petty, coordinator of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation coalitions in Daviess and Pike counties.

The local tobacco prevention coalitions in Daviess and Pike counties have been working hard over the past several years to protect children and adults from the hazards of tobacco smoke. Their accomplishments include:

  • Working with North Daviess, Washington Community and Pike Central schools to strengthen their tobacco policies and make their entire campuses tobacco-free.
  • Providing Tobacco Education Group, an evidence-based intervention program with a high success rate in helping teens quit using tobacco, as a positive alternative to fines and school suspension for juveniles caught using tobacco in Daviess and Pike counties.
  • Assisting major employers, community organizations, and more than a dozen healthcare clinics in providing cessation support for their employees, clients, and patients.
  • Supporting several local employers in enacting smoke-free workplace policies.
  • Educating adults about available cessation resources, and children about why they should not start using tobacco.

The new report shows biological evidence that suggests each cigarette is doing immediate damage and the sooner the smoker quits, the better. The message is clear; it is important to act now to reduce adult smoking in Indiana.

The report also finds that today’s cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine more efficiently to the brain, addicting children more quickly and making it harder for smokers to quit. Today’s tobacco products are designed for addiction.

“This report stresses the need for a strong tobacco prevention and cessation program like we have had for the last 10 years in Indiana. Reducing tobacco use is one of the most effective ways to protect our state’s health and prevent deadly and costly diseases such as cancer and heart attacks by preventing kids from starting and helping adults quit,” added Petty.

The Surgeon General’s report details the serious health effects of even brief exposure to tobacco smoke. It concludes that:

  • Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 70 that cause cancer.
  • Every exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA in a way that leads to cancer.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke has an immediate adverse impact on the cardiovascular system, damaging blood vessels, making blood more likely to clot and increasing risks for heart attack and stroke.
  • Smoking makes it harder for women to get pregnant and can cause miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.  It also harms male fertility.

According to Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, “There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.  Every inhalation of tobacco smoke exposes our children, our families, and our loved ones to dangerous chemicals that can damage their bodies and result in life-threatening diseases such as cancer and heart disease.”

It is imperative for Indiana to continue its progress; in 2009, smoking rates declined to an historic low rate of 23.1 percent representing a highly significant downward trend in adult smoking between 2001-2009 (down from 27.4% in 2001 to 23.1% in 2009). Indiana now has 208,000 fewer smokers than just 10 years ago, but nevertheless Indiana still ranks below nearly every other state in the country (Indiana ranks 45 in smoking rate). There are still more than one million smokers in Indiana and the costs continue to mount up.

  • Each year there are 9,700 deaths in Indiana due to tobacco use.
  • There are over 194,000 Hoosiers living with serious tobacco-related illness.
  • The tobacco use burden to the Indiana economy is $7.7 billion in annual costs.
  • Indiana spends a total of $487 million each year on Medicaid payments caused by tobacco use.

The report and related materials can be found at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov.

The Daviess and Pike tobacco prevention coalitions are funded by tobacco master settlement funds through Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. Their mission is to reduce tobacco-related death and disease by preventing youth from starting, helping tobacco users quit, and reducing public exposure to secondhand smoke. For more information about tobacco-free policies, contact Petty at 812-698-0232 or notobacco@live.com.

Pike Co. Health Fest And Smoke-Free Air Forum A Success

In Local News on November 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm

The Pike Co. Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition hosted the Pike Co. Health Fest at Winslow Community Center Saturday. The Patoka Township Fire Department served a chili lunch, the Pike Co. Health Department gave flu shots, and several groups had informational booths, including Golden Living Center, Pike Co. Dept. of Child Services, Purdue Extension, and the Pike Co. Sheriff’s Department. About 40 people attended the event.

Three speakers talked about secondhand smoke in the workplace and the need for a smoke-free workplace state law. The first speaker was Dr. Fenol with Petersburg Medical Clinic. He talked about how secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease, breast cancer, asthma, and other health problems.

The second speaker was Marilyn McCullough with Thompson Insurance. She talked about how secondhand smoke raises health and building insurance costs and building maintenance costs. She also mentioned studies showing restaurants and bars that go smoke-free do not lose profits and sometimes even become more profitable.

Lastly, Buffy McKinney spoke about her mother, Cheryl Rose, who never smoked but died this spring of lung cancer caused by working in a smoky casino. Buffy also talked about the need for a state law that protects all workers from secondhand smoke.

All three speakers agreed that we should protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke in the same way we protect them from contaminated food and hazardous working conditions.

Smoke-Free Policies – Cheap and Effective

In Local News on October 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

Did you know that a smoke-free workplace policy can save your business a lot of money?

The Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommended smoke-free workplace policies after finding that policies effectively reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and reduce tobacco use among workers. While a policy making indoor areas smoke-free is excellent, a smoke-free grounds policy that provides cessation assistance is even better at protecting non-smoking employees and motivating smoking employees to quit.

Not only is a smoke-free workplace policy one of the most effective things you can do to reduce tobacco-related costs, it is one of the least expensive. According to the Guide to Community Preventive Services, implementing a smoke-free workplace policy costs $526 per quality of life year while providing free nicotine replacement patches costs $4,613 per quality of life year. And a business could save about $3,400 per year for each employee who quits smoking due to a smoke-free workplace policy.

For more information about smoke-free policies and the free resources available in Daviess County to help you implement policies and cessation programs, contact Sally Petty, coordinator of the Daviess County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition, at 812-698-0232 or notobacco@live.com.

Pike TPC Buys Signs For Pike Central Schools

In Local News on October 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

PETERSBURG, Ind. – The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition has purchased tobacco-free campus signs for all Pike Central school properties in support of the school’s new tobacco-free campus policy.

The policy prohibits use of tobacco products by all students, staff and visitors at all times on all school property and grounds.

“A comprehensive tobacco-free campus policy is one of the most important steps a school can take to create a healthy environment for students,” said Sally Petty, coalition coordinator. “The policy sends the message that the school does not condone tobacco use. It supports what students hear from their health teachers and sets a healthy standard for the rest of our community to live up to.”

The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition is funded by tobacco master settlement funds through Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. Their mission is to reduce tobacco-related death and disease by preventing youth from starting, helping tobacco users quit, and reducing public exposure to secondhand smoke. For more information about tobacco-free policies, contact Petty at 812-698-0232 or notobacco@live.com.

Pictured is Petty presenting a sign to school resource officer Charlie Barr.

Golden Living Center Receives Tobacco-Free Business Award

In Local News on October 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm

PETERSBURG, Ind. – The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition today presented their Tobacco-Free Business Award to Golden Living Center in honor of a quality smoke-free workplace policy.

The Tobacco-Free Business award honors Pike County businesses that protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke. Top quality policies prohibit smoking on all property and grounds and provide help for employees to quit smoking. Golden Living Center facilities became smoke-free campus-wide effective Sept. 1, 2010.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing substances, and there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke also kills nonsmokers – 3,400 from lung cancer and 46,000 from heart disease every year in the U.S. Additionally, death and disease from secondhand smoke cost businesses and taxpayers in our state millions of dollars in healthcare costs and lost productivity every year.

“We are proud of Golden Living Center for enacting a policy that promotes a healthier environment for employees, residents and visitors,” said Sally Petty, coordinator of the Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition. “Policies like theirs save both lives and money and help set a healthier standard for our whole community.”

The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition is funded by tobacco master settlement funds through Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. Their mission is to reduce tobacco-related death and disease by preventing youth from starting, helping tobacco users quit, and reducing public exposure to secondhand smoke.

Pictured is coalition coordinator Sally Petty presenting the award to Golden Living Center Director Cathy Eckert.

Washington Carnegie Public Library Gets Tobacco-Free Grounds Signs

In Local News on September 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Washington Carnegie Public Library recently enacted a tobacco-free policy for all library property and grounds. The Daviess County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation coalition purchased tobacco-free signage for the library, and coalition coordinator Sally Petty presented the signs to head librarian Teresa Heidenreich today.