Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and in Georgia. The Coastal Health District is committed to preventing initiation of tobacco use and helping our smokers to quit. We are also dedicated to ensuring smoke-free air in schools, public parks and indoor places of employment, particularly for infants, children, pregnant women and citizens with asthma and/or other chronic respiratory diseases (those who are at highest risk for illnesses resultant from exposure to second-hand smoke). At the Coastal Health District we understand that tobacco is addictive and that quitting is difficult. Our goals are to help those who want to quit, quit for good; discourage tobacco usage among those who don't currently use tobacco; and to help all of our citizens lead healthy, tobacco-free lives.
Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of premature death and disease in Georgia and in the nation (Georgia 2009 Tobacco Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students. Currently, 19% of adult Georgians smoke cigarettes, while 6% (22,000) of middle school students and 15% (68,000) of high school students smoke cigarettes. Also, 8% of middle school male students, 4% of middle female students are smokers, while 17% of high school male students and 14% of high school female students are smokers. In addition, 7% of middle school students and 8% of high school students use smokeless tobacco. Smoking causes nearly 10,000 adult deaths in Georgia (Data are from the 2009 Georgia Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Three main causes of death attributed to tobacco use are: cancer (accounts for 42% of all deaths), cardiovascular disease (accounts for 32% of all deaths), and respiratory diseases (account for 26% of all deaths). Lung cancer accounts for 79% of all smoking-related cancer deaths in Georgia annually. The cost for healthcare in Georgia for adults 18 years of age and older attributed to smoking annually is a staggering $1.8 billion! (Data are from the Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2008).
There is a need for consistent policy language that prohibits smoking and spit tobacco use or tobacco use by students, employees and visitors in school buildings on school grounds, on school property and at school sponsored events. Lastly, the presence of cigarette smoke on our school campuses exposes our 1,629,157 (Georgia Department of Education Fiscal Year 2006-2007 Enrollment Data) students and thousands of employees to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked with increased respiratory illness in children, especially infants, and is responsible for 150,000 to 300,000 serious respiratory ailments each year in young children. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of asthma in children who have not previously had it.
What is a 100% Tobacco Free School Policy?
The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) model policy definition is: "A 'tobacco-free environment' exists if the state, district, or school has a policy prohibiting cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking, and smokeless tobacco use by students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The policy prohibits tobacco use in school buildings, on school grounds, in school buses or other vehicles used to transport students and at off-campus school-sponsored events 24 hours per day 7 days per week." (MMWR Guidelines for School Health Programs to Prevent Tobacco Use and Addiction. CDC February 25, 1994/ 43 (RR-2); 1-18).
How can the schools help?
Schools teach values and the benefits of learning. Tobacco use prevention education has a place along with other important subjects taught in the school environment. The following values and benefits of a 100% Tobacco Free School Policy includes:
1) Providing positive role modeling by adult employees and visitors,
2) Reducing children's observation of tobacco use and taking a firm stand against it,
3) Supporting existing prevention messages delivered in classrooms by sending clear, consistent non-use messages,
4) Providing safe environments for students by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke,
5) Protecting children from a product that is habit forming/addictive,
6) Complying with Federal legislation prohibiting smoking inside school buildings,
7) Protecting against contradicting state law on smoking in public places,
8) Modeling respect for state laws designed to limit access to tobacco by children,
9) Preparing students for the reality of smoke free workplaces and communities,
10) Protecting schools from unnecessary risk of future liability by prohibiting smoking on school premises,
11) Reducing the risk of fires due to "smoking materials".
12) Including young people in the planning, implementation and enforcement of the policy, compliance is likely to be realized.
To see a list of Georgia school districts that are 100% tobacco free, click here: Districts with 100%TFS Policy
To see a map of tobacco-free school districts in Georgia, click here: Map of 100% Tobacco-Free School Districts
To view a model 100% tobacco-free school policy for school districts in Georgia, click here: Model Policy for School Districts
For the American Lung Association's List of Colleges and Universities with 100% Tobacco-Free Campus Policies, click here.
Review the Georgia Tobacco Free College Model Policy 2-2010.
Interested in making the parks and recreation areas in your community tobacco-free?
Georgia Model Tobacco Free Parks and Recreation Policy (Word document)
Georgia Model Tobacco Free Parks and Recreation Policy (PDF)
Second and Thirdhand Smoke. What Does It Mean for You and Your Family?
Third Hand Smoke
Smoking Cessation Classes
If you are interested in hosting or attending a FREE Freshstart smoking cessation class, please call 912-484-4116 or e-mail Cristina Gibson.
Freshstart is the American Cancer Society's smoking cessation program. It is designed to equip tobacco users with the tools they will need to quit for good. Freshstart classes cover topics including stress managment, skills for coping with cravings, the benefits of quitting smoking, methods of quitting smoking, and avoiding a return to smoking.