Last updated: February 26. 2014 8:54AM - 423 Views
Margaret Brackett Contributing Columnist

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Despite a steep drop in the number of smokers in the United States over the last three decades, researchers say that cigarettes remain a growth industry for the rest of the world because of expanding population. The Journal of the American Medical Journal announced last week that the total number of smokers has grown from 721 million to 967 trillion. The total number of cigarettes consumed annually has risen from 4.96 Trillion to 6.25 trillion.

The studies in JAMA were published to mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon general’s report on smoking laid out the health dangers of the habit. Not everyone understands the health risks of tobacco. Experts say that annual tobacco-related deaths are close to half million in U.S, that figure is more than 5 million worldwide.

The S.C. Tobacco-Free Collaborative is a statewide assembly of the leading health organizations, community coalitions, and businesses committed to reducing the toll of tobacco use in South Carolina. Advocating for policy change on tobacco issues can reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, strengthen prevention activities, and increase cessation rates.

This week Newberry Notes is advocating tobacco education, prevention and cessation. Ian Hamilton, S.C. Tobacco –Free Collaborative State Grants Coordinator is spokesperson. South Carolina has historically ranked at or near the bottom of state comparisons as it related to the deadly toll of tobacco use.

The challenge for tobacco control advocates is to develop and execute efforts strategically to significantly reduce tobacco use, reduce second hand smoke exposure, and reduce the likelihood that youth would ever start using tobacco products. The 2007 – 2013 Tobacco Plan was written to address those challenges.

Since 2007, important progress has been made in S.C. Data shows that both adult and youth smoking rates have decreased. However, much more needs to be accomplished in order to demote tobacco to a minor public health nuisance rather than the number one preventable cause of death and disease in S.C.

We are excited to build on the momentum of the 50th Anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking with recommendations what S.C. can do to move ahead in eliminating the toll tobacco takes on our state. The report advises that $51 million a year be spent on tobacco prevention and control programs. Currently, the state currently commits $5 million annually to tobacco and prevention.

Clearing the Smoke

As of January 2014, we have 49 South Carolina’s smoke-free counties, cities and towns. Business has never been healthier. All U.S. workplaces could be smoke-free by 2020! The projection is based on the rate at which states have been adopting comprehensive smoke-free laws. In the past 10 years, 25 states and the District of Columbia have enacted these laws, the CDC report says.

The best practices against secondhand smoke is the Smoke-Free Workplace Ordinance in S.C. communities. Forty nine cities, towns and counties have adopted smoke-free Workplace Ordinance protecting 38 percent of the state’s population from secondhand smoke exposure. Newberry County is 9 percent tobacco-free.

As of January 2014, we have 18 out of 61 colleges (30 percent) tobacco-free. S.C. Tobacco-Free Collaboration is working to encourage all colleges in South Carolina to provide tobacco-free environments for their students, staff and visitors

The University of South Carolina will ban tobacco use effective next year. The University will join at least 10 other schools in South Carolina that already ban smoking or all tobacco products, including chewing tobacco.

CVS this month set a powerful example for all retailers, especially those involved in health care, by announcing that it will end the sale of tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores throughout the United States.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds CVS for this courageous and historic decision. It represents one of the strongest actions any business has ever taken to address the enormous public health problems caused by tobacco use. CVS’s decision will reduce the availability of cigarettes and other tobacco products and sends an unmistakable message to all Americans, especially children, that tobacco is harmful and socially unacceptable.

CVS’s decision to end tobacco sales will help ensure that it does not take another 50 years to achieve the end of adults and youth using tobacco.

Network—Advancing Tobacco Control Policy

This month, the Food and Drug Administration unveiled its first youth tobacco prevention campaign at a media event at the National Press Club. “The Real Cost” targets at-risk youth, aged 12-17 who are open to smoking or already experimenting with cigarettes. About 10 million youth in the U.S. currently fall into this category.

The objective of the campaign is to educate at-risk youth about the harmful effects of tobacco use, reduce initiation rates, and reduce the number of youth already experimenting with cigarettes that progress to regular use.

“The Real Cost” campaign launched nationally on February 11, 2014 across multiple media platforms including TV, radio, print, and online. The $115 million campaign, funded by tobacco industry user fees, will continue to air in more than 200 markets across the country for at least one year.

The South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative will continue in its mission to eliminate the toll of tobacco use in S.C. by providing leadership, guidance, and resources to state and local partners.

“While progress has been made state and nation the past 50 years, the statistics tell us there is still much work to be done. The S.C. Tobacco-Free Collaborative shares in this call to finish the fight and protect our state from the deadly toll of tobacco use,” states Louis Eubanks, executive director.

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