Policy, public awareness keys to reducing secondhand smoke exposure; area health officials say

The Clark County Combined Health District. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
The Clark County Combined Health District. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Mercy Health offering smoking cessation courses this month

The Clark County Combined Health District is working to curb secondhand smoke exposure in Clark County.

The health district is seeking to advance policy proposals. This includes smoke-free policies for public facilities – including parks and other outdoor green spaces; vehicle-safety rules to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in automobiles; and targeted educational initiatives to vulnerable populations.

Secondhand smoke occurs when smoke created by burning tobacco is inhaled and breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke poses many of the same serious health risks as smoking itself. It contains approximately 7,000 chemicals including 70 that are known to cause cancer, according to a health district press release.

Exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer in adults. In children and infants, secondhand smoke has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory infections and asthma attacks, the health district said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 58 million Americans – approximately one out of every four nonsmokers – is exposed to secondhand smoke from burning tobacco products. Statistics show that minority and economically disadvantaged groups are at a disproportionate risk for exposure to secondhand smoke.

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Forty-eight percent of individuals living in poverty are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. Half of all African American nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, but free resources and help are available to anyone who wants to quit tobacco use for good, the health district said.

Those interested in quitting tobacco, too, can call 1-800-QUIT-NOWW for free help.

Teens 17 years and younger can go to www.MYLIFEMYQUIT.com or text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989.

Mercy Health – Springfield is also offering a free, six-week series of smoking cessation classes starting this month.

The classes are led by a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist/Licensed Chemical Dependency counselor. Mercy Health provides nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are provided at no cost while supplies last. Mercy Health also provides carbon monoxide testing.

The classes take place Mondays from 5:30-7 p.m. in the offices of Mercy Health REACH Services — Springfield, located at 30 W. McCreight Ave., on the following dates:

  • July 11
  • July 18
  • July 25
  • Aug. 1
  • Aug. 8
  • Aug. 15
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Groups develop a personalized quit plan which addresses triggers and how to remove temptations, overcome barriers, change negative habits, and develop new skills. Group discussions cover addiction, brain chemistry, tobacco toxins, consequences of tobacco use and how to prevent a relapse, according to a Mercy Health press release.

Participants will also explore the signs of recovery and healing, as well as the physical benefits of quitting smoking. Other topics include weight management, healthy eating, exercise, and if a cardiopulmonary wellness/rehabilitation program can help improve participants’ quality of life. Every program includes assistance with smokeless tobacco and vaping as well,

Six sessions that cover different topics are offered. Free $10 gas card will also be offered to participants for each session attended, the release said.

To register or for more information, please contact Marcy Ivory at REACH at 937-390-5333.

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