Kicking Off Tobacco Free Parks Initiative!!

TF parks

As urbanites, all we get to enjoy, when it comes to nature, is a beautiful lawn and nearby tree, if we are lucky, a garden at our home or nearby neighbor’s. In order to really come out from our everyday routine, and have a good whiff of fresh air, there is the public park.  The park is a place, since we were children, that we visited to let out some steam, to jump, to play, to scream! Never do we think about the smoke or the litter, until there it is, among the little chubby fingers of our toddler that is about to give a taste to the cigarette butt found in the sandbox.

Cigarette litter in Mandan Park, Omaha, NE (September 2012)

Cigarette litter in Mandan Park, Omaha, NE (September 2012)

Do we think twice when someone is smoking at the park? Perhaps, but not if they are at a distance.  But, are they really at a distance? No, if you see them, most likely your kids can see them too and that sends a message.  That tells our youth that smoking really isn’t that big of a deal, and what’s more, like they get to play and have fun, so do the adults. The role modeling that is demonstrated in a setting where activity is mostly mimicked should be a concern for all of us.  Next time you go to a park, know the facts, such as:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure poses health risks for children and adults. The 2010 U.S. Surgeon General’s report concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even when you are outdoors and think that the air is getting rid of the smoke, it still travels and takes time to dissipate, so you and everyone else nearby can still be exposed.

  • Cigarette litter is harmful, and the cigarette is the most littered item on the planet.  The American Lung Association states that there are 600 chemicals in cigarettes, 4,000  when lit, of those 50 are known to cause cancer.  As cigarettes can pose threats to our children they also endanger animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food.

  • Adult habits affect youth. Studies have found that parental actions, attitudes, and opinions about smoking have a great deal of influence on whether or not kids smoke.

The Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) is now beginning a new initiative to make all City of Omaha parks tobacco-free.  Parks are placed to be enjoyed and promote active fun lifestyles.  Families go to parks to enjoy the facilities and spend time together.  Let’s promote positive behaviors for our children.  Help change the norms in our community and support the tobacco-free parks initiative!  You won’t be alone.  In fact over 86% of Douglas County residents support a policy to limit smoking in outdoor areas and more than 90% support a policy to limit smoking in recreational areas.

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day!  Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!

Rent Smoke Free

Rent-transDid you know that according to the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act smoking is not allowed inside of common areas and any general shared areas within rental buildings? Many people think that the policy only applies to business, like restaurants, where smoking is prohibited, but don’t realize that their apartment buildings common areas are also covered. Some common areas include hallways, laundry rooms, and lobbies.

Rent Smoke-Free is an important initiative that the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) began about 5 years ago to increase the number of smoke-free housing options available. Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has also joined the effort and has partnered with MOTAC to help support landlords and inform tenants on the benefits of renting smoke-free. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and there is no way to stop secondhand smoke from traveling from one unit to another once someone starts smoking inside an apartment building. Reports from the Center for Disease Control show that children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of secondhand smoke because of their developing bodies and lungs, and children that are exposed to secondhand smoke are increasingly more susceptible to asthma, ear infections, decreased reading and math scores, and higher levels of behavioral problems.  Through MOTAC and DCHD efforts materials are provided to landlords and tenants, some of which include: window clings, manuals on going smoke-free and its benefits, cigarette receptacles for designated smoking areas as an alternative to smoking inside, and free no smoking signage.

What are your thoughts concerning renting smoke-free living? Does smoking in apartment buildings affect you?

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day! Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!

Tobacco’s Toll in Nebraska

Today is World No Tobacco Day!  Here’s some information to get you started….Did you know that:

  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, imposing a huge toll on health, lives and dollars on families, businesses and government.
  • Tobacco kills more than 400,000 people annually – more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
  • Tobacco costs the U.S. more than $96 billion in health care expenditures and $97 billion in lost productivity each year.
  • While the United States has made major progress against tobacco use, one in five Americans still smokes, and about 4,000 kids try their first cigarette each day.

Now let’s take it to Nebraska….Here’s some data to get you thinking about the consequences of tobacco right here in our state.

The Toll of Tobacco in Nebraska

High school students who smoke 15.0% (15,600)
Male high school students who use smokeless or spit tobacco 10.2% (females use much lower)
Kids (under 18) who become new daily smokers each year 2,000
Kids exposed to secondhand smoke at home 96,000
Packs of cigarettes bought or smoked by kids each year 3.9 million
Adults in Nebraska who smoke* 20.0% (276,500)

*Due to changes in CDC’s methodology, the 2011 adult smoking rate cannot be compared to adult smoking data from previous years.

 U.S. National Data (2011)

High school smoking rate: 18.1%
Male high school students who use smokeless tobacco: 12.8%
Adult smoking rate 19.0%

 Deaths in Nebraska from Smoking

Adults who die each year from their own smoking 2,200
Kids now under 18 and alive in Nebraska who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking 36,000

Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined — and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes — such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide) and smokeless tobacco use.

Smoking-Caused Monetary Costs in Nebraska

Annual health care costs in Nebraska directly caused by smoking $537 million
Portion covered by the state Medicaid program $134 million
Residents’ state & federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures $573 per household
Smoking-caused productivity losses in Nebraska $500 million

Amounts do not include health costs caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, smoking-caused fires, smokeless tobacco use, or cigar and pipe smoking. Tobacco use also imposes additional costs such as workplace productivity losses and damage to property.

Tobacco Industry Influence in Nebraska

Annual tobacco industry marketing expenditures nationwide $8.5 billion
Estimated portion spent for Nebraska marketing each year $54.0 million

Published research studies have found that kids are twice as sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure. One-third of underage experimentation with smoking is attributable to tobacco company advertising.

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day! Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!