WINNSBORO — Fairfield Behavioral Health recently held a training session at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Winnsboro to educate residents about tobacco prevention.
After receiving a grant of $140,000 in 2012, Fairfield Behavioral Health began to set up strategic workshops to affect unhealthy issues in Fairfield County. Smoking and tobacco use was at the top of the list.
As a member partner of Fairfield Community Health Partners, FBH has helped tackle health disparities in Fairfield County.
Because of the recent success of the programs, the Center for Disease Control held a site visit to Fairfield County in August. FBH executive director Vernon Kennedy was honored by the CDC’s visit.
“A lot of times Fairfield County is not known for the best things,” Kennedy noted. “But now, we’re a model for not only the state but around the country as well. The CDC wondered how we were able to achieve so much success in a short time and we really began to draw their interest.”
Studies have stated that children as young as age 10 have started smoking.
To prevent cigarette companies from targeting children, the Food and Drug Administration banned flavored cigarettes in September 2009. In March 2010, they began restricting youth access and in June 2012, banned misleading advertising.
The war on tobacco continued in June 2011 when the FDA required companies to issue cigarette health warnings to highlight the dangers of smoking.
Regardless of the all the warning and studies, people continue to smoke. Even though cigarettes are labeled low, light or mild there is still no reduced health risk.
There is no ingredient label on a cigarette pack, yet food products do have an ingredient label. In most cases, consumers are purchasing more than what they bargain for in a pack of cigarettes.
A cigarette contains 7,000 different chemicals — 70 of which are known to cause cancer.
FBH special service coordinator Cheryl Goodwin questioned those in attendance.
“Why don’t people get in a garage, run their car and suck up the carbon monoxide,” she asked. “Because they’d die. Well, cigarettes are just as harmful.”
Tobacco health risks
More deaths are caused each year by tobacco — 443,000 in 2012 — than all deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries and murder combined.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, while at the same time is the most preventable form of cancer.
According to Cancer Facts & Figures, in 2012 there were 226,160 new cases of lung cancer and 160,340 deaths from lung cancer. Besides lung cancer, tobacco use also increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, lips, throat and nose as well as many others.
Tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States.
Tobacco affects a person’s body by stunting development, increasing the chance of life threatening diseases, increased heart rate and blood pressure and causing breathing problems.
In high concentrations, nicotine is deadly. In fact, one drop of purified nicotine on the tongue will kill a person. It is so lethal that is has been used as a pesticide for centuries. Nicotine, the main ingredient, is more addictive than any illegal drug including cocaine and heroine.
Other ingredients in a cigarette include carbon monoxide (car exhaust), tar (street paving material), arsenic (rat poison) and acetone (nail polish remover).
“If you wouldn’t eat these ingredients on a pizza, then why would you smoke them in a cigarette?” Goodwin asked rhetorically.
Toll on health
Twenty three percent of adults in South Carolina smoke and 23.7 percent of youth in South Carolina smoke. Chronic diseases from tobacco include stroke, heart disease, chronic lung disease and asthma just to name a few.
In South Carolina, 6,100 adults die each year from tobacco use, as well as 720 adult non-smokers that die each year from second-hand smoke. To demonstrate the health risks when using tobacco, Goodwin showed the assembly a jar full of tar representing what was in a person’s body after one year of tobacco use.
Goodwin encouraged the 40 plus people in attendance to register their organization (faith based, community, household or work) with FBH as a smoke free/tobacco.
Signing the policy would commit the organization to being a smoke free/tobacco free campus or site. The goal of registration is to provide a safe and healthy environment for congregational members, employees, visitors and community residents.
“We want Fairfield County to be a healthy county and have it’s residents live without health disparity,” Goodwin stated. “Once people are educated on the facts about smoking and tobacco they want to do better, and that is what these sessions are for.”
For more information about tobacco education prevention training or to register your organization or household as “tobacco-free,” call Goodwin at 803-635-2335 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.