Building A Culture Of Health: Part 5
Smoking Reduction Task Force Making A Difference
Note: On Oct. 28, Spartanburg was named a 2015 winner of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Prize. In becoming one of just eight communities nationwide to earn the designation out of more than 300 applicants, Spartanburg was recognized by the leading health philanthropy in the country for its years of work in addressing health outcomes countywide. While this work has brought dozens of organizations and hundreds of people together, the effort has coalesced around five broad areas: Active Living/Healthy Eating, Access To Care, Behavioral Health, Healthy Birth Outcomes, and Smoking Reduction.
This week we will share what we hope will be a concise yet informative five-part look at the progress that has been made over the past several years in each of these five focus areas. At the end of the week, we will then share a link to an online poll that will allow the public to decide which of the five focus areas will receive the $25,000 award that came with the Culture of Health Prize.
Reducing Tobacco Use
In a state that has long had one of the nation’s highest rates of heart disease and cancer, Spartanburg County has had one of the highest rates of heart disease and cancer in South Carolina. While there are many factors that contribute to heart disease and cancer, tobacco use is a primary culprit.
That’s why so much effort has been focused on reducing smoking over the past several years. And those efforts are starting to show some results. The approach to reducing tobacco use has been multi-pronged, starting with implementing several tobacco education programs for youth and cessation programs for adults. AccessHealth Spartanburg has integrated the South Carolina Quit Line into all of its case management and services to patients and to date has referred more than 700 clients to the smoking cessation program.
And understanding how policies and environments affect individual behavior, the task force has worked closely with the SC Tobacco Free Coalition to advocate for tobacco-free environments. In Spartanburg, the Coalition has identified 27 municipalities, public schools, and colleges/universities to implement tobacco free policies or ordinances. To date, 10 of those sites have become tobacco-free environments.
And despite concerns from some that smoke-free ordinances would have a negative impact on local businesses, the City of Spartanburg found in the year after it adopted the ordinance that restaurant sales were more than 7 percent higher than during the prior year and, on average, more than $1 million more was spent per month in city restaurants than in the year prior to the ordinance. Since the City of Spartanburg has adopted a smoke-free ordinance, three other municipalities in Spartanburg County— Chesnee, Inman and Duncan —have followed suit, a significant move since research shows children in communities with smoke-free ordinances are 44 percent less likely to ever start smoking than children in communities without one.
This task force plans to use the $25,000 from the Culture of Health Prize to develop more education and awareness efforts, specifically around the use of electronic or e-cigarettes. According to a 2014 study, more teens used e-cigarettes in 2014 than tobacco cigarettes or any other tobacco product. E-cigarettes have become so popular among youth, that between 2013 and 2014, the percentage of middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes tripled. Data shows that youth have a low perceived risk in regards to e-cigarettes, and this may be one reason for the dramatic increase in usage.
The task force believes it is critical to educate the community on the dangers e-cigarettes pose to youth, and to establish the percentage of youth in Spartanburg County who use e-cigarettes.